Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 17:09 UK

Kenya warned over Somali 'troops'

Somali Islamist fighters
Al-Shabab is accused of links to al-Qaeda

Islamist rebels in Somalia have accused Kenya of recruiting ethnic Somalis who live in Kenya to fight against them.

An official with the militant al-Shabab group warned that his organisation would do all it could to stop Kenya.

The mayor of the Kenyan town of Garissa says 200 young men have been taken from their homes, though Nairobi denies taking part in any such activities.

Kenya supports Somalia's weak UN-backed government, which is battling al-Shabab and other Islamist groups.

But Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula insisted he would not allow Kenyans to be recruited to fight, suggesting Somali militants were the more likely culprits.

If you are giving our youth jobs then they better be jobs that don't endanger their lives
Mohamed Gabow
Garissa mayor

"It is possible that some rogue elements from across the border fighting the TNG [Somali government] could be recruiting Kenyan youths - I have no official communication on this," he told the BBC's Ruth Nesoba.

"If there are any Kenyans who hold out themselves to be recruited as mercenaries then they are breaking the law and we will catch up with them and we will prosecute them."

He dismissed the threats from al-Shabab, saying they had made similar warnings many times in the past.

Dahir Mohamud Gelle, information minister with Somalia's government, also denied using soldiers from Kenya.

'No complaints'

Sheik Da'ud Mohamed Garane, appointed as governor of Somalia's Gedo region by al-Shabab, told a crowd of about 200 people that Kenya was "giving training and military equipment to Somali men in three different areas along its border with Somalia".

"These men are being prepared to attack the peaceful positions we control. But let me tell Kenya that we will do all we can to prevent that to happen," he said.

map showing areas under Islamist control

They are apparently told that they are being recruited into the police force and will be paid $600 (£380) a month.

The BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay in the north-eastern town of Garissa says reports of Kenyans being recruited have been circulating for several days.

Garissa Mayor Mohamed Gabow told our reporter that people had been moving around town during the night, recruiting young boys.

"We thought if you are giving our youth jobs then they better be jobs that don't endanger their lives," he said.

"But giving them guns and involving them in fighting in other countries is not fair."

Several parents in Garissa expressed concern for their children, saying they had been told they were going to the Kenyan port of Mombasa for training, but had not been heard from since.

One woman said her son had been recruited to join Amisom, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

North-eastern Kenya is largely inhabited by ethnic Somalis.

Somalia last had a functioning central government in 1991.

Since then numerous armed groups have been fighting for control.

Islamist rebels who are accused of having links to al-Qaeda dominate much of southern and central Somalia, while the government runs only parts of the capital, Mogadishu.

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