Kenya arrests as many as 2 men with Canadian passports: reports

As many as two Somali Islamic fighters who claim to be Canadian were among 10 fighters arrested by Kenyan police, according to separate reports Tuesday.

As many astwo Somali Islamic fighters who claim to be Canadianwere among 10 fightersarrested by Kenyan police, according toseparate reports Tuesday.

The 10 were arrested on Monday at the Liboi border crossing in Kenya as theytried toflee Somalia, the Kenya Daily Nation reported.

Two were reportedly carrying Canadian passports, while the remaining eight were said to have Eritrean passports. According to the newspaper, all 10militants were being detained in the Kenyan town of Garissa. It is not known whether they have been charged.

ACanadian Press report, however,said onlyone man with a Canadian passport had been detained. The report quotes Kenya police spokesman Gideon Kibunja.

"It's difficult to judge if they are Islamic Courts fighters, but a number of them were Eritrean and one had a Canadian passport," Kibunja said.

Foreign Affairs officials in Canada told CBC News on Tuesday that they were aware of theKenya Daily Nation report,but they would not comment until they had more information.

Officials at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi saidtheywere tryingto get information from Kenyan police about the arrests, butthey havenot had much success.

"Consular officials are aware of the arrest on the Kenya-Somalia border," said Ian McKinley, a counsellor with the High Commission. "We are actively investigating whether Canadian nationals were detained in order to provide them with consular help."

Canada has issued a travel warning urgingCanadians not to travel to Somalia, or if there already, to leave immediately.

10 stopped while fleeing in vehicle

According to the Kenya Daily Nation, Kenyan security forces suspect that the 10 fighters helped to finance the Council of Islamic Courts, an Islamic movement that has been driven out of Somalia by government forces backed by Ethiopian troops.

The Islamists abandoned their last stronghold in Kismayo, 500 kilometres south of the capital Mogadishu, on Monday.

Police stopped the 10 militants as they tried to flee Somalia in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. All were arrested hours after the Islamists fled their last stronghold.

The Islamists were being detained at divisional police headquartersand will be interrogatedby Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and National Intelligence Security Service, the newspaper reported.

Kenya, meanwhile, said it has sealed part of its border to ensure nofighters will cross.

Thousands of Islamists abandonedMogadishulast Thursdayafter troops backed by Ethiopia's military advanced toward them. They had occupied the capitalfor six months.

Fighters have fled for Kenya and the southern hills of Somalia, and have threatened to fight back using guerrilla tactics.

Ethiopia likely to pull troops within weeks: Gedi

Ali Mohamed Gedi, Somalia's prime minister,said the Islamists have beenscattered, and he thinks the fighting is largely over. He said Ethiopia would likelypull its troops out within weeks.

Gedisaid he wants the country to disarm, and ordered a three-day period for Somalis across the country to surrender their weapons voluntarily at points set up by the government. The arms collection process has begun, he said at a news conference Tuesday.

"The weapons collection centres are ready, with personnel appointed for that purpose in place."

Gedi said if the Islamic fighters now on the run were prepared to surrender to government forces, he would provide amnesty to them.

With files from the Canadian Press