Kenya’s prime minister has asked for help from the US and Europe in a “final onslaught” on the Somali port of Kismayo, the main stronghold of the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
Raila Odinga said Kenyan forces would get to Kismayo by August and asked for both funds and troops.
He said beating al-Shabab would need “an operation by land, sea and air”.
EU warships are in the area to tackle pirates but attacking al-Shabab would be a huge escalation in their mission.
Such action does not fall under the EU’s mandate.
The EU’s anti-piracy mission has not yet responded to the call.
Its mandate was recently expanded to allow for land attacks against Somalia-based pirates.
Up to 10 warships are on patrol off the Horn of Africa as part of the EU’s Atalanta operation, which was launched in 2008 to protect commercial shipping against pirate attacks.
African Union soldiers, Ethiopian forces and Somali government troops have in recent months succeeded in driving al-Shabab from several towns.
Kenyan forces moved into Somalia last October and have been slowly moving toward Kismayo.
Kismayo is considered strategically important because the al-Shabab militants who control it get a significant portion of their funds by levying “taxes” on the port.
“Without controlling Kismayo, it’s very difficult to completely neutralise al-Shabab,” Mr Odinga told journalists in Nairobi.
“It has taken time because our forces felt that to move in otherwise would have cost a lot of lives, both civilian and military.”
Mr Odinga said he intended to ask the US to help pay for the assault.
He said the US had previously “resisted” providing funds until Kenyan forces joined the African Union force known as Amisom. They joined earlier this month.
“If they can also bring military assistance so much the better, but for now we are talking about financial assistance,” he said.
He said the EU was “reluctant” to commit because Kismayo is an al-Shabab stronghold and not a pirate stronghold.
But he said the international community should work together to “create an environment in Somalia that will facilitate the voluntary return of Somalis to Somalia.”
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via bbc.co.uk. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com