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Kenya gets backing against Al Shabaab

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Updated Tuesday, November 15th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Standard Team

Kenya’s diplomatic efforts to build a coalition of countries behind its ongoing military action against Al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia is bearing fruit as more countries voice their support.

Efforts to strengthen the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia have also intensified. Countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) were meeting on Monday alongside regional nations to discuss the future of the mission. African Union spokeswoman Lulit Kebede said defence ministers from Uganda and Burundi, which both have troops in Somalia, and "interested countries" Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia will attend the closed meeting.

Administration Police from the Rapid Deployment Unit sail out of Lamu jetty on Monday. They are keeping vigil around most hotels in Lamu County. Photo: Maarufu Mohamed/Standard

"The meeting should address the matters relating to the political, security and military operations in Somalia and to Amisom ... and the way forward on the situation in Somalia," according to a statement.

The ministers, meeting in the Ethiopian capital, also discuss a UN resolution on maintaining the mission until October 2012.

Amisom is made up of 9,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi. Djibouti and Sierra Leone have pledged to contribute additional soldiers, which would bring the total number of troops to 10,700.

The AU force is tasked to protect the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia.

Within the African Union, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda have all backed "Operation Linda Nchi" as the Kenyan offensive is dubbed.

Western nations, including France, Britain, Poland Germany and the US have also expressed support for Kenya’s efforts to protect its territorial integrity, further increasing the isolation of Al Shabaab.

The Sultanate of Oman became the latest country to back the offensive by the Kenya Defence Forces and soldiers of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government inside the war-ravaged country.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has won promises of support from Israel to boost the capacity of the Kenya Police to battle terrorism inside the country.

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