- Kenyan authorities have denied reports alleging that it has trained over 2 500 Somali troops who are ready to join the government battle against the radical Islamist group, Al Shabaab.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji dismissed the story as a total fabrication, saying there were no trained troops in Kenya destined for Somalia.
The Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojodeh has also dismissed the reports saying Kenya does not have a bilateral agreement with the Somali government, or any other group in the region to train troops on their behalf. “That report is not true and should not be taken seriously,” said Mr Ojodeh.
The report in Gorowe online quoted sources from Kenya saying the recruits were aged between 20 to 25 years and that the training was held in the Kenyan town of Isiolo.
Kenya has rejected a call from the UN and other regional blocks to contribute troops to the UN-backed African Union peacekeeping mission, which is backing up the weak government from the powerful insurgents.
Somali government, which also has soldiers trained by Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi, has already announced plans to flush out the insurgents from much parts of the country.
Al Shabaab rebels control a chunk of the country and have been a major threat to the fragile Somali Transitional Government.
The African Union's (AU) peacekeeping force in the capital Mogadishu (AMISOM) has more than 5,000 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi who are frequently attacked by the rebels and have been able to do little more than secure the city's air and sea ports.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian troops in armoured vehicles have reportedly crossed into two border towns in south central Somalia and seized the family of a man with links to al Shabaab insurgents.
The residents said troops went to El Barde and Yeed on Saturday seeking the man.
Tensions are growing in the Horn of Africa, drought-ridden region, where jobs are scarce and both Somalia's warring factions have been trawling Kenyan villages, seeking to recruit young gunmen.
Somalia has not had an effective central government for close to two decades.
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