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Kenya puts troops on alert

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Troops and police along Kenya's border with Somalia are on high alert amid fighting between Ethiopian soldiers and fighters from the Union of Islamic Courts.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Moses Wetang'ula said in Nairobi Tuesday there was no reason to believe violence would spill across the border, but the influx of refugees was expected to increase.

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Watenag'ula appealed for restraint on the part of the Ethiopians to give the regional Inter-Government Authority on Development a chance to end the violence through mediation, The Daily Nation reported Wednesday.

The IGAD was instrumental in the formation of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, which the Union of Islamist Courts defeated in a number of clashes earlier this year, gaining control of central and southern Somalia.

Ethiopia, a traditional Somali adversary, has sent troops into Somalia in support of the transitional government.

Latest reports put Ethiopian forces within striking distance of Mogadishu.

Western intelligence agencies are concerned about possible links between the UIC militias and al-Qaida.

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