Home > TFG Somalia > War in Sothern Somalia:Jets pound Kismayu as forces gear up for clash + Related News

War in Sothern Somalia:Jets pound Kismayu as forces gear up for clash + Related News

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laaska News Oct. 24,2011
Kenyan troops target Islamist-held town in southern Somalia
Envoy pledges US support for Kenyan forces
Jets pound Kismayu as forces gear up for clash



The battle to capture Kismayu started on Sunday with jets bombing several Al-Shabaab bases in a final push to wipe out the militants.


It was, however, not immediately clear whether the fighter jets that bombed Al-Shabaab’s Congo military base north of the port city early on Sunday belonged to Kenya or other allied forces helping in the fight against the militants.

Under aerial attacks

“It is confirmed that Kismayu has been under aerial attacks, but it is not our troops, it must be one of our allies,” military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said.

Kenyan commanders were mobilising their troops in readiness for what is expected to be a fierce battle to capture the town of Afmadow, a strategic transit point for goods illegally trafficked through Kismayu.

Kismayu is Al-Shabaab’s nerve centre for operations and its main source of funding and its capture and that of Afmadow will significantly weaken the militants.

Maj Chirchir said that Lt-Col Jeff Nyaga, who is commanding the Kenyan forces, had reinforced his troops in readiness for what is expected to be a fierce battle to capture Afmadow following reports that Al-Shabaab had dug in to defend the town.

“The commander, Lt-Col Jeff Nyaga, has made adjustment on his troops on ground to occupy a vantage point as Al-Shabaab prepares to fight on this front. Al-Shabaab (is) believed to be heavily regrouping in Bula Haji and moving towards Afmadow,” Maj Chirchir said in a statement.

He reported that the rains had subsided, creating good conditions for Kenyan troops to manoeuvre while the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) fighters were already positioned at Hayo ready to join the Kenyan troops in the push to capture Afmadow.

A French naval gunship patrolling Somali waters also bombarded the town of Kuday, south of Kismayu, as the battle to decimate the militants gained momentum.

It was not immediately clear how many militants could have been killed or wounded during the attack in Kuday with the French Navy promising to give damage assessment as soon as possible.

The Kenyan troops and their allies from TFG have already occupied the town of Oddo, which they captured on Friday and were said to be advancing towards Burgavo town in their march to Afmadow and Kismayu.

Nearer to the Indian Ocean coast, Kenya is advancing to Kismayu in its effort to isolate the rebel fighters.

On Saturday, the military said it had moved beyond Oddo and had launched an air strike on Munarani, hitting an Al-Shabaab command centre.

Foreign media reports quoted residents saying convoys of armoured vehicles and trucks carrying weaponry, food supplies and tents were seen leaving four military camps in Isiolo on Friday and heading towards the border.

Maj Chirchir said that the overall campaign strategy was to reduce Al-Shabaab’s effectiveness and to restore TFG authority to achieve enduring peace in Somalia.

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Nairobi claimed it had received credible information of an imminent terrorist attack in Kenya as a result of the military offensive against the militants.

“This is to inform US citizens residing in or visiting Kenya that the US Embassy in Kenya has received credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs,” a statement from the embassy warned.

Limit official travel

The statement said that the embassy had taken measures to limit official US government travel to Kenya and asked Americans intending to visit the country to postpone such arrangements.

The militants have vowed to bring the “flames of war” into Kenya if Nairobi refuses to withdraw its troops.

A radio station broadcasting inside Somalia last week reported that the militants had beheaded two men on Friday for allegedly spying for advancing Kenyan and TFG troops in parts of Afmadow.

Radio Bar-Kulan quoted Al-Shabaab’s deputy leader in the area Shueib Ali Adan saying the two were spying for Kenyan and Somali troops who are advancing to the area to flush out the militants.

As the fighting escalated, Doctors Without Borders was forced to suspend its measles vaccination campaign in the area. The campaign had been scheduled to last three weeks and to reach 35,000 children.



Envoy pledges US support for Kenyan forces

In Summary

•Obama administration backs offensive against insurgents, says Ambassador

The United States on Sunday declared its readiness to provide technical support for Kenya’s troops in Somalia.

The country’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Scott Gration, said although Washington would not send its troops to Somalia, it would go out of its way to help Kenya to restore its territorial integrity.

The diplomat was speaking in Lamu during a meeting with private investors and hoteliers hosted by Tourism minister Najib Balala.

Mr Gration, a retired major, said the US respected Kenya’s decision to go into Somalia to rout out Al-Shabaab militants.

“We respect the right of a nation to take any decision to defend its borders as per article 51 of the UN charter on self defence and pursuit of hostile elements across international borders,” he said.

He observed that the abduction of British tourist Judith Tebbutt and French woman Marie Dediue had adversely affected the Kenyan economy.

But he assured Kenyans that America would stand with them to ensure security was restored.

The envoy said some of security concerns in Kenya could not be tackled overnight, adding that the US was considering providing short- and long-term support to the government.

“Some of these problems can not be solved overnight. It is real there are challenges and Kenya needs to review its strategy. We will see what to do through our mutual relations,” he added.

Heightened security

Mr Gration also said the US Government was content with the heightened security measures taken by the Kenyan authorities to avert terror attacks.

He hinted that the US would review travel advisories issued to citizens against visiting Kenya.

“We are in the process of reviewing travel advisories. The big review will be announced on November 1. The work by police, military and Kenya Wildlife Service officers is very positive. There is tremendous progress in terms of security measures put in place around this beautiful place (Lamu),” he said.

Mr Balala appealed to the Africa Union to fast-track reporting the Al-Shabaab provocation to the UN Security Council.

The minister said the group’s activities had adversely affected the country’s economy and brought tourism in areas like Lamu on its knees.


Kenyan troops target Islamist-held town in southern Somalia

By Njoroge Kaburo

NAIROBI, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — Kenyan troops are closing in on Somali militant-held town of Afmadow on Sunday as air and ground forces push further across southern Somalia in its pursuit of militia blamed for a spate of abductions in the east African nation.

Military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said the Kenyan troops backed by Somali soldiers made further advances on Al Shabaab controlled towns of Burgavo and Badade.

“The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) troops in cooperation with Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) Forces have occupied Oddo and is closing into Burgavo town,” Chirchir told Xinhua late on Sunday.

He said the commanders of both KDF and TFG in Kolbio are advancing towards Badade as business resumed in the town of Oddo with residents requesting for the opening of border,” he said.

The cross-border operation dubbed Operation Linda Nchi, “Protect the Nation”, which was launched on Oct. 16, has seen Kenya deploy ground troops and air assets between its common border and near the Somali port town of Kismayo.

Chirchir said a section of the Kenyan troops, operating from the Southern sector, moved through El Wak, 35 km inside Somalia, adding that the troops reported no fighting as the area remained calm.

The Kenyan military commander in Kolbio, which fell to the Kenyan troops recently, said the troops are making advances after heavy aerial bombardments.

“KDF troops have moved through El Wak, 35 km inside Somalia with the intent to capture Busar. Heavy rains are still being reported,” he said.

Chirchir said the Kenyan troops in Somalia closed in on the rebel-held town of Afmadow where they may fight their first ground battle against al-Qaeda-linked militants since launching an offensive last week.

Hundreds of residents were reportedly fleeing Afmadow on Saturday in anticipation of fighting as Kenyan and Somali troops moved closer.

He said a French naval gunship had bombarded the town of Kuday, south of Kismayu on Saturday but did not say if there were any casualties. “Yesterday (Saturday) the French Naval gunship patrolling Somali water bombarded the town of Kuday which is south of Kismayo. Estimated death not confirmed but the French Navy promised to give damage assessment as soon as possible,” Chirchir said.

According to Chirchir, the overall campaign strategy remains to reduce the Al Shabaab effectiveness and help to restore TFG authority in order to achieve enduring peace in Somalia.

He said Commander Lt. Colonel Jeff Nyaga has made adjustment on his troops on ground to occupy a vantage point as Al Shabaab prepares to fight on this front.

“Rains are subsiding, creating good conditions for troops maneuver. TFG troops at Hayo with good logistics ready to fend off Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab is believed to be heavily regrouping in Bula Haji and moving towards Afmadow,” he said.

Al-Shabaab which aims to topple the government in Mogadishu and establish Sharia has warned Kenyan soldiers as they crossed the frontier to attack insurgent strongholds that they would feel the “pain of bullets”.

The militia group has in the recent past abducted four foreigners from inside Kenya undermining the economy of the country.

Security analysts believe like Al Qaida, the Al Shabaab’s main sources of funding may be legitimate businesses in Nairobi and Mogadishu, from where the group draws funds to keep its operations running.

Struggling as a governing authority in most parts of southern Somalia, the Al Shabaab is reportedly mobilizing local business leaders to provide its volunteers with modes of transport to enable it defend against the Kenyan offensive.


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