Eritrea has rejected Kenyan suspicions that it may be arming Islamist al Shabaab rebels in Somalia, as a diplomatic row between the two countries intensifies.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said on Friday he had summoned the Eritrean ambassador and « raised concerns about intelligence that we have and information available that there is a possibility that arms supplies are flowing from his country to al
He said Kenya, whose troops are fighting the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant in southern Somalia, had « a series of options, » which he did not specify, to deal with the alleged arms supplies.
« The Government of Eritrea finds extremely regrettable the remarks attributed to the foreign minister of Kenya … regarding the fabricated story of Eritrean arms shipments to al Shabaab in Somalia, » Eritrea’s foreign ministry said in a statement dated November 5.
Eritrea denies arming the fighters and says such allegations are stirred up by regional rivals to sully its reputation.
It described Kenya’s implied threat of action as « unfortunate » ahead of an anticipated visit to Kenya by its own foreign minister.
Kenya deployed troops inside Somalia three weeks ago to crush the al Shabaab militants it blames for a wave of kidnappings in Kenya and frequent cross-border attacks.
Nairobi has warned of air strikes on a number of rebel bases across southern and central Somalia in response to what is said were reports Eritrea had flown consignments of weapons into the militant enclave of Baidoa.
One of al Shabaab’s top commanders told worshippers on Sunday the insurgents would not surrender their key strongholds, even if subjected to aerial bombardments.