France denies Somali bombardment, admits helping Kenya
France is providing limited logistical support to Kenya's offensive against Islamist rebels in Somalia, the defence ministry said Monday, formally denying a French warship had bombarded the Somali coast.
"Following a request from the Kenyan authorities, we are providing logistical support with a Transall (transport plane) that is taking Kenyan material from Nairobi to an airport in northern Kenya," near the Somali border, ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard told AFP.
The support will be provided up to Tuesday and is "limited in space and time, within Kenyan territory," Burkhard said.
"I formally deny" reports that a French warship had taken part in a bombardment of the Somali coast as had been claimed by a Kenyan military spokesman, Burkhard said.
Nairobi sent soldiers across the border a week ago to hunt the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters it blames for the abductions on its soil of a British tourist, a disabled French woman and two Spanish aid workers.
Kenya warplanes on Sunday targeted the Shebab-held Somali port city of Kismayo as troops advanced on the insurgents.
The military has not said how many of its troops are deployed, but analysts estimate the number at between 2,000 and 3,000.
© 2011 AFP