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How KDF used spy planes to seize Kismayu

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Soldiers with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) celebrate after capturing key Al-Shabaab militia base in Afmadow, southern Somalia, May 31, 2012. Photo/XINHUA

Sophisticated intelligence gathering tactics that included using pilotless spy planes and infiltration of Al-Shabaab terrorist group resulted in the amphibious attack on the port city of Kismayu on Friday.

Military officials conversant with how the capture of Kismayu was planned and executed yesterday told the Nation that covert intelligence gathering tactics and infiltration of the port city by special forces provided the best opportunity to attack the remaining Al-Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia.

Drones are unmanned aircraft either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or programmed to fly over certain areas. They are mainly used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, taking photographs and transmitting the images to a command centre. Some drones can also be used to bomb targets on the ground.

Data provided by drones was used by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) jets to target Kismayu airport which served as Al-Shabaab’s arms warehouse before the attack on the port city.

The drones were also used in monitoring the movement of the militants, fortification of their defences and their arms supply lines.

Caught by surprise

Military commandos left their Kenya Navy ships in newly acquired Kenya Defender Class Response and Fast Response boats, catching the militants by surprise

Contacted, KDF officer in charge of information, Col Cyrus Oguna, confirmed that the capture of Kismayu, was a result of a variety of tactics.

He said African Union troops had surveillance equipment and that is why the collateral damage is limited. The attack on Kismayu was led by Kenyan troops operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), who are in charge of Sector II together with Somali National Army.

“We have a combination of surveillance equipment, I will not be specific but we have equipment to monitor the ground from above, equipment to monitor the ground from the sea and from the ground. We have sufficient equipment to protect Kenyans,” he said.

On Sunday, KDF jets conducted aerial strikes at suspected Al-Shabaab hideouts around Kismayu in an operation to flush out remnants of the militants from the lucrative port town.

The first airstrike was on the town of Berharne on the outskirts of Kismayu where Al-Shabaab remnants are believed to have been holed up while the second was on Bardhere on the northern part of the port town near the Ethiopia border.

Col Oguna dismissed reports that KDF forces had conducted overnight shelling around Kismayu resulting in the deaths of two children.

“We do not carry out shelling at night. That is Al-Shabaab propaganda to distract attention from what they have done on Juja Road,” he stated, referring to the grenade attack on ACK St Polycarp Church in Nairobi’s Pangani in which one child was killed and seven others seriously injured.

The airstrikes were a continuation of the major offensive that saw the Kenyan troops fighting alongside their Somalia National army (SNA) allies seize Al-Shabaab’s main command centre in Kismayu on Friday.

Two top commanders of the militia were killed during the offensive.

Sheikhs Hassan Yakub and Abdikarim Adow are among the militiamen killed during aerial bombings targeting Al-Shabaab logistic centres.


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