KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Kenya on Friday announced a new security operation aimed at ousting Islamic extremists from a forest along the border with Somalia.
Al-Shabab extremists have been using Kenya's vast Boni forest as cover to launch attacks on Kenyan territory, Interior Secretary Joseph Nkaisserry said.
Al-Shabab, which has ties to al-Qaida, is increasingly encroaching on the Boni enclave amid pressure from African Union forces operating against the militants in their home base of Somalia.
"This situation is compounded by the forested and bushy environment, which gives terrorists cover against both mobile and aerial surveillance," Nkaisserry said during the launch of the operation in the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu.
The new military operation will be accompanied by a plan to improve infrastructure and social services for residents in the area, he said.
Kenya has been attacked many times by al-Shabab, which opposes the country's decision in 2011 to send troops to fight the Islamic extremist group as part of the African Union force backing Somali's weak federal government.
In September 2013, at least 67 people were killed in an attack by al-Shabab on the Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
In April, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on a college campus in northeastern Kenya that left at least 148 people dead.