Tuesday, December 27, 2011
As Kenyans thronged churches and
entertainment spots on Christmas Day the country’s military was
literally in the trenches battling Al Shabaab under the blistering
When the guns
finally went silent, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) had killed five
members of the militant group and injured eight in the Southern Somali
But signs there could a
bigger war involving the Kenyan forces and Al Shabaab got cleared when
the militia revealed it was marshalling its forces in Kismayu. This is
the town out of which KDF wants to flush them out as the port town is
considered to be its economic lifeline and logistical support base. KDF spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir
reported the Kenyan forces struck Kuday, a town South of Kismayu. In his
latest update posted on Twitter, Chirchir confirmed KDF had hit targets
in Wamaitho and Deida Adhi both in Lower Juba leaving at least150
injured, with some may be even dead.
the same raid, one ‘technical’ vehicle popular with Al Shabaab fighters
was decimated and one skiff (small boat) also destroyed. Chirchir urged
civilians in Somalia to stay away from Al Shabaab bases to avoid being
hit during air strikes.
Shabaab accuses Kenyan Air Force of hitting civilians in camps for the
internally displaced and claiming victory, a claim that has been denied
strongly by Kenya, which insists it only targets military installations.
Shabaab has not officially commented on the latest attacks by KDF, but
the raids may be the closest yet to Kismayu and represent an escalation
of the conflict. The deadly strikes appear targeted to soften Al Shabaab
positions and to break their will to fight.
the air raids have avoided Kismayu, possibly to prevent mass deaths,
especially of civilians in this densely populated town in Southern
According to Somali
websites linked to Al Shabaab, the militia has stepped up training of
personnel in and around Kismayu and is reportedly rushing extra militia
from other areas of Southern Somalia to the port city to stave off a
possible attack from the Southern Sector by KDF.
appears to be relying more and more on its air power to overcome the
difficulties of roads made impassable as heavy rains continue to pound
much of Southern Somalia. Movement of heavy military equipment and amour
has reportedly been slowed down.
at home, police are expected to bring to court eight individuals
suspected to be working with Al Shabaab including two who surrendered
themselves to police on Saturday afternoon. They are Sylvester Owino
Opiyo alias Musa Osodo and Hussein Nderitu Abbas alias Mohamed, who
police brought under its radar claiming they "have vital information on
Al Shabaab activities in Kenya."
have cause to believe they have information which can assist us in
unraveling any intended criminal activities by the Al Shabaab in the
country," said the Police Spokesperson Mr Eric Kiraithe.
Chacha Mwita, who represents Opiyo and Nderitu, said he was ready to
battle police in court accusing them of engaging in "propaganda tricks".
"Why did the police send out a dramatic public alert against my two
clients when they could have easily contacted me and request me to avail
them? Was it necessary to create a public scare? Do they have another
agenda in mind?" Mwita asked.
also fought off claims that his clients violated bail terms insisting
he was unaware of any condition beyond posting the Sh300,000 bond and a
surety of a similar amount. Police had accused the two, who have ongoing
cases of being members of Al Shabaab militia, of violating their bail
Police have not yet
revealed names of the other six who are being held in unknown locations.
Last week, police arrested six other suspects in Nairobi and Mombasa in
what it claimed was an operation to prevent an attack by the
Somalia-based group during the busy holiday season.
are expected to arrest more people this week as the holiday season
approaches its peak on New Year’s Day to prevent possible attacks.
latest military encounter by KDF comes a few days after a commander of
the Al Shabaab was reportedly killed in a fierce ground battle a few
kilometers from Kenya-Somalia border but inside the neighbouring state.
on the ground indicated that the rebel group was trying to move forces
towards the Central Sector of the Operation Linda Nchi when they were
intercepted by KDF ground forces, near Gerille in Somalia on Friday
evening. The town that Al Shabaab lost in October after the Kenyan
intervention in Somalia started, lies about 10 kilometres from the
international border with Kenya.
Shabaab has not commented on the killing of Commander Abdirashid Garbe,
slain alongside ten fighters on Friday evening. But a KDF officer in
Gerille told The Standard inside Gedo in Somalia "Abdirashid Garbe who
is a commander was killed by KDF."
Estimates indicate about 60 fighters, who were on foot, were involved in the fight in which KDF suffered no casualties.
the operation against the militia by KDF and Somalia’s Transitional
Federal Government (TFG) forces is on more than 100 kilometres inside
Somalia’s Gedo Province.
Kenyan military is trying to deter the militants’ attempts to regroup
after routing them from a string of towns close to the Kenyan border.
months ago, a KDF soldier was killed in Busar in an ambush by Al
Shabaab, which is being squeezed towards Bardheere after being ousted
from many parts of Gedo including Garbaharey, which is held by a pro-TFG
Islamic militia group calling itself Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a.
to expert projections in Somalia, an assault on Bardheere would open
the main highway to Baidoa, Al Shabaab’s stronghold in Bay and Bakool