(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kenya on Sunday to offer help in countering Somali al Shabaab militants who have staged deadly attacks there and elsewhere in East Africa. Kerry will also address Kenya’s human rights in meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government officials as well as discussing the troubled peace process in South Sudan and violence in Burundi, a U.S. official said.
Kerry’s visit followed the killing of 148 people by al Shabaab militants in an attack on the university at Garissa, nothern Kenya, on April 2. “We will be looking at additional ways that we may be able to support Kenyan efforts to fight al Shabaab,” the official said, without giving details. Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said last month that Nairobi wanted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support from Western allies.
Washington is particularly worried about the security situation in Kenya’s neighbour Somalia, where a fragile government backed by Western powers and African peacekeepers is struggling to contain al Shabab, which is allied to al Qaeda. “Our major message is that fighting terrorism requires a multi-faceted approach,” the U.S. official said. Assistance should also help poor communities in Kenya that al Shabaab may seek to win over, he said.
Kerry was planning to meet Somali refugees from Kenya’s Daddab camp and talk to students there via a video link. Both Washington and the United Nations have said they are concerned about Nairobi’s decision to close the camp in a bid to stem militant attacks. Kerry was also due to set out plans for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya in June, his first to his father’s homeland since taking office.
Later this week Kerry will visit Djibouti — tucked between northern Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea — where most of the U.S. forces deployed in the Horn of Africa are stationed.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Angus MacSwan)