MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali militants on Monday threatened to bring down Nairobi skyscrapers after Kenya sent hundreds of troops into Somalia. The threat emanated from the same lawless country where the al-Qaeda masterminds behind 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies sought refuge.
The Kenyan invasion comes at a time when the Islamist militia al-Shabab has been weakened by famine in its strongholds, has been pushed from the capital of Mogadishu by African Union troops, and finds itself increasingly challenged by clan militias.
The United States also has launched airstrikes against al-Shabab leaders amid concerns over terrorist training camps in the failed state of Somalia.
Al-Shabab lashed out in a news conference and an eloquent English statement Monday, saying the “bloody battles that will ensue as a result of this incursion will most likely disrupt the social equilibrium and imperil the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.”
The statement urged Kenyans to tell their “saber-rattling politicians” to not let the “flames of war” spill over into Kenya, destroying the East African nation’s stability.
“Your skyscrapers will be destroyed, your tourism will disappear. We shall inflict on you the same damage you inflicted on us,” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for the group, said at a Mogadishu news conference.
Kenya on Sunday moved two battalions of about 800 troops each across the border in two locations, a Nairobi-based official said. The invasion is the most significant foreign deployment of the Kenyan military since independence from Britain in 1963.
Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, a Kenyan military spokesman, would not disclose their final objective, how long they were prepared to stay, or any other details. He did say that five Kenyan military personnel were killed when their helicopter crashed near the border. Kenya said the invasion is retaliation for the kidnappings of four Europeans — two aid workers and two tourists — from Kenyan soil.