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Africa Union forces foil terror attacks on Somali Kismayo port

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Africa Union peacekeepers in Somalia (AMISOM) said they have thwarted two planned terror attacks this week by suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists in the southern Somalia port city of Kismayo.

AMISOM Force Commander Andrew Gutti said in a statement received in Nairobi on Friday that a joint AMISOM forces apprehended a woman carrying explosives as she attempted to access the Kismayu University, where delegates are participating in the ongoing Jubaland process on Wednesday.

"The woman, a casual laborer at the University, was found to be carrying a grenade and Improvised Explosive Device," Gutti said in the statement, adding that the woman is in the custody of the Somalia government Forces and the explosives she was carrying have been destroyed in a controlled explosion.

The Kenyan operation code-named, Linda Nchi (Protect our Nation), has mostly enjoyed a solid public backing for its resoluteness in dealing with the threat of the Al-Shabaab on the economic, social and political interests of Kenya.

The port city of Kismayo, Al-Shabaab’s only remaining stronghold, was captured by Kenyan soldiers and other allied forces on September 28, 2012 after a spirited gunfire between the insurgents and AMISOM forces which are comprised of Kenyan and Somali soldiers.

The militant group has also come under pressure from Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone soldiers who recently pushed out them out of the outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu and other key regions they used to control two years ago.

Analysts say the loss of the seaport was a major blow to the insurgents who once extorted much of their revenue from traders and businesses utilizing the facility.

Meanwhile, Gutti said AMISOM forces also thwarted an attack on the Kismayo International airport.
"Around midday (Wednesday), a group planning the attack was picked by surveillance and promptly engaged by AMISOM troops.

"This forced the terrorists to hastily fire their mortars, which landed outside of the airport, and flee the scene."
Gutti congratulated the forces on their alertness saying their speedy actions had saved many civilian lives.
"This is a reminder that though there is relative calm in the city and surrounding areas, we have to be vigilant against the terrorists who wish to harm the people of Somalia," he said.

Gutti said ever since AMISOM and Somali National Forces forced the Al-Qaida affiliated terror group out of Kismayo in September last year, the area has experienced a period of relative peace.

"Many formerly displaced residents have been able to return to their homes and humanitarian aid agencies have resumed operations in the area," he added.

Kenya says the deployment of her troops in the southern regions have so far helped to prevent the movement of explosives to the strategic towns of southern Somalia, the conduit points for the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the counterfeit electronics and contraband sugar smuggling across the region.

Military officials said these regions are crucial to the stabilization of Kenya’s coastal and northeastern provinces, which have been targeted by attackers preying on soft civilian targets.


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