A government spokesman says Kenyan military forces are moving into southern Somalia to pursue al-Shabab militants.

The military push Sunday comes one day after Kenya's top defense officials said the country has the right to defend itself after a rash of militant kidnappings of Europeans inside Kenya.

Residents in southern Somalia said that columns of Kenyan troops had moved in and that military aircraft were flying overhead. Ali Nur Hussein said Kenyan troops arrived in tanks and military trucks and were coordinating with Somali government soldiers.

Kenya's government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, said that government troops "are pursuing al-Shabab across the border."