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French forces shell Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Following French shelling of rebel positions in Somalia, Kenyan officials acknowledged a Western partner had joined the fight against al-Shabaab.

The Kenyan military last week launched an offensive against al-Shabaab, al-Qaida's affiliate in Somalia.

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The French navy struck several rebel positions inside Somalia last weekend, the Kenyan military said. Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, a spokesman for Kenya's armed forces, was quoted by The New York Times as saying "one of the partners," which the Times said was a reference to the U.S. or French militaries, was behind recent airstrikes in Somalia.

The Times adds that French forces launched covert strikes inside Somalia in the past with the aim of attacking militant or piracy groups active in the region.

A 66-year-old French woman died after she was kidnapped recently from the Kenyan border near Somalia.

Kenyan newspapers, according to the Times, said U.S. military forces had joined the fight in Somalia. U.S. officials told the newspaper on condition of anonymity, however, that there were no U.S. military strikes inside Somalia "recently."

Al-Shabaab was blamed for the death of soldiers fighting in Somalia for the African Union, though it wasn't immediately apparent if the group was behind the latest reports of kidnappings in the area.

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