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Just who knew that Kenya would launch its attack on Somalia?

Somalia's president has condemned Kenya's surprise 10-day-long attack onto Somali soil. Uganda has praised it, and the US and French governments claim no involvement.

Kenyan troops board a truck near the Kenyan town of Liboi near the Somali border last week. Kenya has launched military operations in southern Somalia against al-Shabab a militant group affiliated with Al Qaeda.

AP

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Kenya’s military operation into Somalia is now well into its second week, with tough battles ahead in the Islamist-held town of Afmadow and the port city of Kismayo, and few signs that this incursion will have an early exit.

But the Kenyan attack, which appears to have caught Kenya’s Western allies and even the Somali government by surprise, has gathered support from other regional powers in East Africa, who argue that the time has come to finish off the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali group, Al Shabab, once and for all.

In the past week, leaders including the African Union’s Jean Ping and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional group have endorsed Kenya’s operation, in stark contrast to the Western-backed Somali president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who condemned the presence of Kenyan troops on Somali soil. But while it is still unknown how long the operation had been planned, and who had been informed in advance, it has become clear that Kenya’s military advance into Somalia is a long-term commitment, with uncertain – but powerful – consequences.

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