24 Oct 2011
The French navy has bombed Somalian militants accused of kidnapping Western tourists.
As Kenyan ground forces continued hunting the Islamic al Shabaab rebels today, the country’s military revealed the French naval assault on the southern town of Kuday, a stronghold of the militiamen, on Saturday.
The bombing is the first evidence of a Western power becoming involved in the Kenyan incursion into Somalia following a wave of attacks and kidnaps.
It came as 13 people were injured early today in a grenade attack on a nightclub in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
A man entered the Mwauras club at about 3am threw the grenade and fled. No group admitted responsibility but al Shabab had threatened reprisals after 1,500 Kenyan troops advanced into southern Somalia last week.
Initial confirmation of French naval involvement could not be gained from Paris but the report follows widespread rumours last week that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia.
Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchi, said Kenyan troops were advancing on Afmadov, a town near the reported French target. He added: “We want to inflict trauma and damage on the al Shabab.”
The Kenyan government launched its land and air offensive after al Shabab was accused of kidnapping four Westerners, including British tourist Judith Tebbutt, 56, and wheelchair-bound Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu.
Mrs Tebbutt’s husband David, 58, was shot dead last month when the couple, from Hertfordshire, were targeted at a remote Kenyan resort on September 11.
Cancer sufferer Mrs Dedieu, 66, taken from her beach house on Kenya’s northern coast three weeks ago, was reported dead last week. France called her death “a violent act of utter brutality”.