Somali foreign minister says ties with Kenya unaffected by terrorism

(Xinhua) — Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer said on Friday that diplomatic ties with Kenya remain strong despite a spate of terrorists’ attacks from Al-Shabaab militants.

Speaking during a live television interview in Nairobi, Omer said Kenya and Somalia will strengthen cooperation to fight terrorism, piracy and illicit cross border trade.

“Kenya has been our friend and this bond will not be broken by terrorism. There are so many Somali citizens who settled in Kenya after the civil war in 1991 and the country’s troops are boosting our reconstruction,” Omer said.

Somalia based militants Al-Shabaab last week attacked Garissa University Campus in northeastern Kenya and killed 148 people and left over 70 others maimed.

The Kenyan government pledged to wage a new onslaught on Al- Shabaab after the attack and has suspended bank accounts for several organizations suspected to be financing terrorism.

Omer said the Somalia Federal Transitional government will support regional efforts to eradicate youth radicalization and militancy.

“We require a common strategy to win the war against terrorism. Our Countries should enhance information sharing and initiate programs to win the hearts and minds of youth targeted by extremists,” said Omer.

He said the Somali government will only support gradual repatriation of Kenyan troops from the country once stability is restored.

“We welcome Kenyan troops in Somalia and want them to remain until the country is stable,” Omer said. He added the Somali government supports the repatriation of refugees from Kenya once their safety is assured.

“We are ready to provide a new lifeline to these refugees but their security should be a priority,” said Omer. The Kenyan government has frozen bank accounts of individuals and entities suspected of financing terrorism.

“The freezing of these accounts is very unfortunate but we hope only those who violates the law will be punished. Kenya has a right to apprehend individuals deemed a threat to its security,” Omer said.