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Kenya postpones reopening of border with Somalia

Kenya postpones reopening of border with Somalia
Kenyan Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki and Somali Minister of Internal   -  
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Kenya said on Wednesday it was postponing the reopening of its border with Somalia after recent attacks on its soil attributed to radical Al-Shabaab Islamists.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki announced that the phased reopening of Mandera, Lamu, and Garissa border posts could not take place as announced in May.

The move comes after the deaths of five civilians and eight police officers in separate incidents near the border last month blamed on the al-Qaeda -affiliated group Shabab.

"The government will postpone the scheduled reopening of border points between Kenya and Somalia until we conclusively address the recent spate of terrorist attacks and cross-border crimes ," Kindiki said during a visit. at Dadaab refugee camp in far eastern Kenya, near Somalia.

The border was officially closed in October 2011 due to attacks by Al-Shabaab, who have been waging an insurgency against the federal government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.

The two countries had announced in July 2022 their intention to reopen the border during talks between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, but this never materialized.

But on May 15, following a high-level ministerial meeting in Nairobi, officials from the two countries agreed to the gradual reopening of three border crossings.

Mandera was expected to reopen within 30 days of the announcement, followed by Garissa within 60 days and Lamu within 90 days.

But on June 13, eight Kenyan police officers were killed in Garissa when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. On June 24, five civilians had their throats slit in an attack claimed by Al-Shabaab in Lamu near the Somali border; some were beheaded.

Al-Shabaab are fighting Somalia's federal government, backed by the international community, to establish Islamic law in the Horn of Africa country.

Since its military intervention in southern Somalia in 2011 and its participation in the African Union force in Somalia (Amisom, now Atmis) created in 2012 to fight this insurrection, neighboring Kenya has also been targeted by this group, which also recruits among local youth.

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