* Al Shabaab is still holding out in Kenyan mall
* U.N. envoy Kay calls for targeting al Shabaab-held ports
* Says African troops in Somalia "under-resourced"
By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles
GENEVA, Sept 24 African troops in Somalia
require helicopters and armoured vehicles to counter al Shabaab,
the Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for the
deadly attack on a Kenyan shopping mall, the U.N. envoy for
Somalia said on Tuesday.
Nicholas Kay, U.N. special representative for Somalia, said
more troops may also be necessary and called specifically for
targeting three ports along the Somali coast that he said were
operated by al Shabaab for illicit trade.
The group said on Tuesday its militants were still holed up
in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi which they attacked at
Al Shabaab has about 5,000 militants and poses a threat
across Africa and beyond, Kaye said, adding that ridding Somalia
of al Shabaab would help consolidate the Mogadishu central
government's "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to help bring
peace to the country.
"Security remains the number one challenge, the control and
defeating of al Shabaab is key to this," he told a news briefing
"My understanding is that they are financing themselves a
lot through taxation and trade," Kay said.
"They do control at least three of the minor ports of the
coast of Somalia ... These ports must be high on the (list of)
military targets," Kay said.
Al Shabaab has particularly profited from the illegal export
of charcoal, which falls under sanctions laid down by the U.N.
Security Council and is also against Somali law, he said. That
annual trade is valued at some $35 million, he added.
"NOT A SINGLE MILITARY HELICOPTER"
Kay will go to the United Nations in New York this week to
press for more support for the military effort by the
"under-resourced" AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia.
"They have, for example, not a single military helicopter
for a campaign in a country that is the size of Afghanistan
physically," he said.
"This is a mission that needs extra resources in terms of
enablers - helicopters and armoured vehicles, and possibly a
surge also in numbers of troops."
AMISOM's mandate includes 12 helicopters but none has yet
been contributed to the mission, which has around 17,700 troops,
mainly drawn from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Kay said the force
was now spread thinly across the country.
He said the cost of the extra effort would be small compared
with what the international community had spent on Afghanistan,
Mali and Iraq, but the price of failure would be high.
"The Westgate attacks show that the threat from al Shabaab
is international, we have seen it before in Kampala and I fear
we could see it again elsewhere too. The ideology and terrorist
intent respects no borders," he said.
Asked about reports that the gunmen include Americans and
possibly a British widow of a suicide bomber who took part in a
deadly attack in London in 2005, Kay said:
"I have also seen the reports, it doesn't necessary surprise
me because we have been aware for some time that al Shabaab has
foreign fighters within Somalia among their ranks. These are
part of the global jihadist movement and it wouldn't surprise me
if they come from a variety of countries."