NAIROBI, Kenya - As fierce fighting spread to new areas of Somalia on Thursday, American officials said they had been taken by surprise by Kenya's recent march into Somalia to battle Islamist militants.Kenya is one of the closest American allies in Africa, frequently cooperating on military and intelligence issues, and American officials have branded Islamist militants in Somalia a serious threat to the United States.
But Kenya's sudden incursion into Somalia over the weekend caught the United States "on its heels," one American official said Thursday. A former American official with experience in Africa said Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts "zero" information before the offensive started.
A senior American officer said there were no American military advisors or trainers with the Kenyan troops, but the officer would not comment on whether the United States was providing intelligence or reconnaissance information to the Kenyans.
Somali officials have likewise denied that they knew anything about the Kenyan offensive before it began, though it would be politically uncomfortable for them to publicly invite a foreign force onto their soil given the anger many Somalis felt toward Ethiopia's incursion into the country to oust Islamists in 2006.