Two British 'terrorists' caught as Kenya
pushes back Islamist militants in Somalia
- The pair are believed to be from Cardiff
- Kenyan police said they are British although one is of Somali descent and the other Pakistani
- Kenyan and Somali forces both push towards strategic Somali town of Afmado
Two Britons are being questioned by an anti-terror unit in Kenya today after they were arrested near the border with Somalia.
The pair are believed to be from Cardiff and are British citizens, although police said one is of Somali descent and the other Pakistani.
Charles Owino, deputy spokesman for the Kenyan police, said: 'They were arrested crossing into Somalia. They are under investigation by the anti-terrorism unit of the Kenyan police.'
Two Britons are being questioned by an anti-terror unit in Kenya today after they were arrested near the border with Somalia. Kenyan troops, meanwhile, are pushing towards the strategic Somali town of Afmadow (file picture)
South Wales Police have been in contact with officers in Kenya to try to obtain more information about why the pair were detained.
A statement from the force said: 'Officers are currently in liaison with the Kenyan authorities in respect of two British nationals who have been detained near to the border with Somalia.
'The identities of these persons have yet to be formally confirmed, both are believed to be from the Cardiff area... The force is liaising with local law enforcement to establish the circumstances of their detention.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'We are aware of reports of two British nationals detained in Kenya on October 16 and we are seeking normal consular access.'
The arrests come after six weeks during which Somali gunmen have kidnapped four Europeans and killed a fifth inside Kenya.
This led Kenyan forces to move into Somalia en masse over the weekend.
The push by Kenyan ground forces towards the strategic Somali town of Afmadow has been slowed by heavy rain, a military spokesman said today.
Warning: Al-Shabab spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage yesterday threatened Kenya during a news conference in Mogadishu
As Kenya's defence and foreign ministers arrived in Mogadishu for talks, Kenyan troops and pro-Somali government forces are heading towards the town just north of the port city of Kismayo, where the militant group al-Shabab is entrenched.
Major Emmanuel Chirchir said Kenyan forces were at the Somali town of Qoqani, about 50miles from Afmadow.
Residents of Afmadow yesterday reported that al-Shabab fighters were leaving as the troops approached, although Major Chirchir said progress has been slowed by rain.
Abdinasir Serar, a commander with the pro-government Ras Kamboni militia, said: 'Our troops are heading to Afmadow now, and we expect to capture it either today or tomorrow.'
In Mogadishu, Kenya's ministers of defence and foreign affairs were to meet with the leaders of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, said government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman.
Kenyan forces moved en masse into Somalia over the weekend, following a declaration on Saturday by Kenyan leaders that the country had the right to defend itself.
Mr Osman said previously that Kenyan troops were not needed in Somalia's south.
Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia, recently
Al-Shabab yesterday denied involvement in the abductions, and warned Kenya of terrorist attacks on its soil unless its forces retreat.
The group threatened to bring down Nairobi skyscrapers and referenced the July 2010 bomb attacks they masterminded in Kampala, Uganda, that killed 76 people.
Al-Shabab said the attacks were retaliation for Uganda's troops contributions to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.
'Remember what happened in Uganda's capital,' Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, an al-Shabab spokesman, said.
Although Kenya said the kidnapping attacks were the catalyst for the invasion, there are indications the push into Somalia has been in the works for some time.
Military analysts say it is highly unlikely Kenya could organise such a complex military operation so quickly in response to the kidnappings.
The Kenyan invasion comes at a time when al-Shabab has been weakened by famine in its strongholds, has been pushed from the capital of Mogadishu by African Union troops and finds itself increasingly challenged by clan militias.
Kenya moved two battalions of about 800 troops each across the border in two locations, a Nairobi-based official said. Tanks, helicopters and artillery have also been deployed.
The invasion is the most significant foreign deployment of the Kenyan military since independence from Britain in 1963.
Kenya's final objective remains unclear. It has spent the last two years pushing for a buffer zone between it and troubled Somalia.
Kenyan forces trained and equipped the so-called Jubaland militia of more than 2,000 Somalis and have frequently said they want to take Kismayo, a port city whose customs revenues are the insurgency's biggest cash cow.
Al-Shabab's key line of defense for Kismayo is in front of the Juba river. There are only three bridges across it strong enough to take the movement of vehicles.