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Kenya tweets of new threat in war against militants: donkeys

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REPORTING FROM NAIROBI, KENYA -- Pity the donkeys of northern Kenya: The country’s military announced Thursday that those sold to the wrong people would be bombed.

The Twitter feed of Kenyan military spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, who is rapidly becoming the public face of Kenya’s incursion into Somalia, warned that his forces had identified a new threat in the war against Al Shabab militants: loaded donkeys.

In conventional wars (if they even exist any more), intelligence is concerned with mass movements of tanks and troops, but Kenya is watching out for mass movements of donkeys, which would be considered an enemy activity.

The reason, Chirchir explained in a flurry of messages late Thursday, was that ‘information reaching us confirms that Al Shabab has resorted to using donkeys to transport their weapons.’

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Another tweet said: ‘Currently Somalia is receiving heavy rainfall, making the roads impassable.’

Another: ‘Any large concentration of loaded donkeys will be considered as Al Shabab activity’

He tweeted that selling donkeys to Al Shabab on the Somali-Kenyan border would undermine Kenya’s battle against the insurgents, known as Operation Linda Nchi, or ‘protect the nation.’

‘In addition we are also reliably informed that the cost of donkeys has risen from $150 to $200 for a donkey,’ he added, advising Kenyans not to sell the animals to Al Shabab.

The major, who has rapidly built a following of more than 2,700 for his tweets, regularly posts news items and messages on the morale of Kenyan forces.

Several days ago, Chirchir warned people in 10 southern Somali towns that Kenyan planes were about to launch continuous bomb attacks and called on them to stay away from Al Shabab bases.

Thursday evening, he posted a YouTube video clip on his Twitter feed purporting to be of Kenya’s navy blowing up a vessel and killing 18 Somali militants.

He has also warned on Twitter of planeloads of arms arriving in southern Somalia and declared that Kenya would track down and destroy them.

Kenya invaded Somalia last month to crush Al Shabab militants fighting Somalia’s U.N.-backed transitional government, an operation triggered by alleged kidnappings of foreigners in Kenya by the Islamic movement.

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--Robyn Dixon


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