Nairobi - Kenya's president told Somalia on Tuesday to
"put their house in order", in a sign of frustration at the festering
instability in the neighbouring country after members of a Somali militant
group attacked and killed dozens at a Nairobi shopping mall.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group said it raided the
Westgate mall, killing at least 67 people in a four-day siege, in revenge for
Kenya's military campaign against its fighters inside Somalia.
Al-Shabaab repeated its warnings to Kenya on Tuesday of new
attacks if it did not pull troops from Somalia.
The mall attack bore out widespread fears that Somalia,
whose cash-strapped government exerts little control beyond the capital
Mogadishu, remained a training ground for militant Islam and a launching pad
for attacks beyond its borders.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would not be bullied
into withdrawing his soldiers, who are part of an African peacekeeping force.
He also took aim at the Somali government, which a source
close to the Kenyan presidency said had also recently called for Kenyan troops
to leave before withdrawing the demand under pressure from regional leaders.
"If their desire is for Kenya to pull out of Somalia,
my friends, all they need to do is what they should have done 20 years ago,
which is put their house in order," Kenyatta told religious leaders at a
multi-faith prayer meeting.
Mogadishu, in turn, has been angered by Kenya's perceived
close relationship with a former Islamist warlord now in control of Somalia's
southernmost region, which borders Kenya.
There was no immediate reaction from the Somali government.
But al-Shabaab said in a statement that if the Kenyan
government's decision was to keep its forces in Somalia, it was an indication
that it hadn't yet learned "any valuable lessons" from the Westgate
The group promised even more insecurity, bloodshed and
destruction in Kenya.
"Harakat al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen is fully determined
to intensify attacks inside Kenya until the last KDF boots exit Somali
soil," the insurgent's press office said.
"If Kenya's political leaders are still persistent in
their quest to occupy our Muslim lands and carry out heinous atrocities against
our people, then let them know that Kenyans will never find peace and stability
in their country."
The Westgate raid was the worst attack in Kenya since al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy there in 1998, killing more than 200 people, mostly
Hours after the militants struck, spraying people with
bullets and hurling grenades, al-Shabaab accused Kenya of turning a deaf ear to
repeated warnings to end its military intervention in Somalia.
But Kenyatta said his country had only deployed forces there
after tourists and foreign aid workers were targeted in a string of kidnappings
on Kenyan soil.
"Let me remind them that it is they who, having had
enough of killing themselves in their own country, decided to come and
interfere in Kenya," Kenyatta said. "We did not go there. They came
"I want to be categorically clear: We will stay there
until they bring order in their nation," he added.
Somalia's ambassador to Kenya told Reuters on Friday his
country's security agencies were working closely with Nairobi after the mall
Kenya's government has said it is "at war" with
Islamist militants who attacked the Nairobi shopping mall.
But with its security services on high alert, some Kenyans
have said they were worried that the government may have failed to act on prior
intelligence information, and they said the latest threat by the militants
could cause even more anxiety.