Large numbers of Kenyan security forces including helicopters were reported close to the Somali frontier on Saturday, an Agence France-Presse reporter in the area said.
Kenyan military vehicles were seen driving through scrubland near the Liboi border post.
“Everything possible is being done to ensure those kidnapped are found,” Haji added.
Kenya is still reeling from the kidnapping of the French and British women from coastal regions which has badly damaged its key tourism sector.
Halt to aid
Aid agencies said they were halting all but life-saving relief efforts in Dadaab — the world’s largest refugee camp, and home to about 450 000 mainly Somali refugees fleeing drought, famine or war — as they reviewed security.
Kenyan authorities have on several occasions expressed fears Islamist extremists would infiltrate the Dadaab camps from Somalia, as the border lies barely 100km away.
Kenya also said it had shut its border with Somalia, although enforcing that move across the porous frontier will be a near impossible move in reality.
“We have closed the border with Somalia and we have no apology to make,” Saitoti said, adding that security officials would search all refugees entering and already in Kenya, claiming not all were “a bona fide refugee”.
The Dadaab camp complex has seen a huge influx of people this year — over 7 500 people have arrived in the crowded complex of rag, tin and plastic huts this month alone.
The exodus has been sparked by a severe drought that has affected more than 13-million people across the Horn of Africa, hitting Somalia especially hard.
“Why is it that this refugee issue is being seen as a Kenyan issue?” Saitoti added.
“We want the international community to stabilise Somalia so that these refugees can be taken back there,” he said.
Somalia has had no effective government ever since it plunged into repeated rounds of civil wars beginning in 1991, allowing a flourishing of militia armies, extremist rebels and piracy.
The al-Shabaab have reportedly denied involvement in the kidnappings, according to the World Health Organisation’s representative for Somalia. – AFP