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Uhuru reaches out to America for help in war against Al-Shabaab in Somalia

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - The US should play a central role in a bid to eliminate violent extremists in Africa, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has said, suggesting that "we need a helping hand".

Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants have to a larger extent caused havoc within East Africa, with Kenya being the most affected due to proximity to Somalia.

A report by the UN submitted last year indicated that over 4,000 civilians have been killed by the Al-Shabaab, Somalia suffering most casualties in the process.

In West Africa, the Boko Haram militants have also created mayhem, which cuts across many countries and causing many deaths.

While addressing Atlantic Council in the US on Wednesday, Uhuru said: "Africa's problem has been ideological extremists opposed to democracy".

These extremists and militants, he noted, are uniting to challenge the continuity of many parts of Africa.

Uhuru added: "If we remain weak and vulnerable to these distractions, we will never realize the immense wealth we have."

Africa remains the most potential continent in terms of resources but civil wars and the rise of terrorism threats have contributed to stagnation in development.

But to streamline the opportunities, Uhuru added that "the US should strive to support rather than dovetail with destabilizing factors."

Al-Shabaab menace in Africa

For decades, Al-Shabaab has threatened to destroy stability in East Africa, in their bid to bid to upsurge fragile UN-backed Somalia government.

And the Kenyan president believes the ongoing military intervention should be supported as the fundamental strategy to crush the militants.

He said, “Groups like al Shabaab must be crashed through the surge of military efforts in Somalia to offer room for workable political consensus”.

Currently, Africa has deployed over 22,000 soldiers in Somalia, with about 3,000 of them selected from Kenya Defense Forces.

The KDF is intending to remain in Somalia until relative stability is achieved in the war tone nation, Uhuru told the audience.

How Kenya wants Al-Shabaab eliminated

Besides the military intervention, Somalia partners should shift focus to Al-Shabaab financiers, by targeting their sources of the avenue.

Uhuru insisted that "efforts to defeat such militants will be achieved by freezing terrorist financing."

Already, Kenya has implemented a series of interventions by nabbing people engaging in contraband trade across the border.

Three people were arrested after crossing over from Somalia with suspected contraband goods, Dr. Fred Matiang'i, the interior minister said.

Communities along the Kenya-Somalia border are also being involved in security arrangements, a move aimed at improving vigilance.

US airstrikes in Somalia

While Uhuru wants the US military to support African troops in the fight against extremists, there is no doubt that Washington has been actively involved.

US African Command, which operates under Gen. Stephen Townsend has been waging a series of airstrikes against the militants in Southern Somalia.

This year alone, AFRICOM has waged eight strikes in Jubaland, killing dozens of militants in the process, Military Times reported.

Early last month, the Al-Shabaab militants raided a US Naval Base in Kenya, killing three Americans in the process.

While the militants were killed, the US has launched investigations with the help of Kenya to establish what exactly transpired.

Gen. Townsend said, "They caught us unprepared but we have put mechanisms in place to ascertain what happened."

Kenya, Uhuru said, "remains a key partner of US in the fight against violent extremism in Africa and across the globe."