Kenya push al Shabaab rebels from two Somali towns

January 6, 2012 14:24

NAIROBI - Kenyan forces have squeezed al Shabaab militants out of their entrenched positions in two Somali towns as they step up their offensive against the rebels, who have threatened to retaliate with fierce attacks in Kenya.

Kenya sent troops into neighboring Somalia last October after a string of kidnappings and cross-border attacks it blamed on the al-Qaida-linked militants and which threatened Kenya's lucrative tourism industry.

After initial advances, Kenya's troops, who are fighting alongside Somali government forces, have been largely bogged down due to heavy rains.

It has instead relied on air strikes in areas where al Shabaab has a presence in the south of the country, but the end of the rainy season has seen a dramatic escalation in the number of villages taken over by Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian forces.

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