Somalia recruits Kenyan youth against Shabaab

Somalian government has recruited more than 170 young Kenyans and former servicemen to fight against armed opposition groups.

Somalia recruits Kenyan youth against Shabaab

Somalian government has recruited more than 170 young Kenyans and former servicemen to fight against armed opposition groups in Horn of Africa state, local leaders in eastern Kenya said.

Mohamed Gabow, the mayor of Garissa, told Reuters the enrolment of ethnic Somali Kenyans was being conducted at a home in Bulla Iftin village, on the outskirts of his town.

"The recruitment is not a secret. Those involved are not worried. They are going around all the villages to announce the exercise," he said in an interview late on Thursday.

Gabow called for there to be an investigation.

"We are raising an alarm. Our community must not be used to kill its kin or risk the lives of its people."

Local police commander Paul Mukoma dismissed the report as a rumour and said no official complaint had been lodged.

"No local leader or any parent has come forward to inform us about any such reports," he told Reuters.

Western donors agreed in Brussels in April to give Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration nearly $214 million to help build up a police force of some 10,000 personnel and a 5,000-strong security force.

But less than a third of the aid pledged to help end 18 years of lawlessness in the country and in waters off its coast has been received, U.N. officials say.

Mohamed Khalif, a human rights activist in Garissa, said more than 300 Kenyans had enrolled to fight for Ahmed's government.

But he said only about half that number had so far left to fight, with the rest apparently succumbing to pressure from family and friends not to cross the border and take up arms.

"We have not asked Kenya to recruit soldiers for us," Somalia's Information Minister, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, told Reuters in Mogadishu. "(Kenya's) Northeastern province where the soldiers are being recruited is not part of Somalia."

Reaction to recruitment

On Friday, the top al Shabaab official in Somalia's Gedo region, bordering Kenya, called for the recruitment to halt and warned that the remote desert frontier between the two nations made it easy for the rebels to take action if it did not.

"The recruitment should stop or we will take measures," Moalim Daud told reporters in Gedo.

"We urge elders here and in Northeastern Kenya to stop the recruitment of their children as troops for Somalia. If you do not listen to our message, you will see what we will do in both places. There is no recognised border to prevent us."

One security source in Garissa said recruits were being offered 30,000 shillings ($400) a month, while experienced former Kenyan servicemen were being offered 40,000 shillings.

"Youths in this province are desperate. They can get more who are ready to take any risk just to earn a living," Khalif told Reuters. "Some have joined al Shabaab. Many have been killed. They are travelling to their graveyards in Somalia."

Reuters
Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2009, 11:05
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