> Somalia: U.S. Planes Join Battle
Peter Leftie and Muchemi Wachira
23 October 2011
Al Shabaab militants were on the back foot on Saturday evening as they faced
heavy bombardment from multiple fronts from a combined force of Kenyan
troops, US drones, African Union peacekeepers and Transitional Federal
Reports from the battlefront indicated that Kenyan troops were advancing
towards four al Shabaab-controlled towns as they launched a final push to
capture the Kismayu port and Afmadow in Central Jubaland.
There was progress on the diplomatic front, too, when the Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (Igad) member states endorsed the military
offensive against the militants during a special conference held in Addis
Abba Ethiopia on Friday.
The Igad Council of Ministers urged the United Nations Security Council to
impose a blockade on Kismayu, a move which will effectively cut off billions
of shillings collected by the militants to fund their insurgency.
A statement from the military said Kenyan security forces were advancing
towards Burgavo town in southern Somalia after capturing Oddo on Friday.
Another group was marching towards the town of Badade from the direction of
Kolbio which they conquered on Friday. The troops had earlier bombed areas
around Munarani near Oddo from the air, flattening an al Shabaab command
A third company was moving towards the town of Hayo in Central Jubaland
after the heavy rains that have been pounding the area subsided.
Simultaneously, fighters allied to the TFG were closing in on Afmadow amid
reports that al Shabaab militants were regrouping in the town of Bula Haji
and heading towards Afmadow.
It is expected that a deadly confrontation between the Kenyan and TFG troops
on one side and the militants on the other may be witnessed in that town.
The al Shabaab militants are reported to have sent fighters around the River
Juba area in a bid to stop Kenya and Somalia troops from advancing into
Kismayu territories in a bid to cut off billions of shillings they earn in
port fees and illegal sale of contrabands goods.
The Kenya army alone is reported to have deployed at least 4,000 soldiers
backed by Transitional Federal Somalia Government troops for a ground
invasion of Kismayu.
Navy ships fitted with heavy weapons are reported to have arrived in the
Somalia territorial waters and set up base around Bajuni Islands of Kudai,
Ndoa, Chuvaye, Koyama, Fuma Iyu na Tini and Nchoni Islands.
Reports which could not independently be verified emerged that at least 44
militants were killed following a deadly attack by US drones in Ras Kiamboni
A day earlier, another 22 militants had been killed in a similar attack in
Kudhaa Island near the Kenyan border, according to reports carried by Press
In Dhobley, one of the six former al Shabaab strongholds so far captured by
the Kenyan forces, Kenyan soldiers were being hailed as heroes after pushing
out the militants who have been oppressing locals for years.
The locals were even volunteering intelligence information on al Shabaab to
the Kenyan troops according to a TFG military official Major Mudu Mohammed
who spoke to the Sunday Nation.
"Civilians are giving Kenyan soldiers information on the hideouts of al
Shabaab who have terrorised them for so long," he said.
Maj Mohammed said that majority of al Shabaab's victims were women and
children as most of the young men had fled for fear of being captured and
forcefully recruited into the militant group.
"Most of the young men have escaped from their villages fearing being
conscripted into al Shabaab," he added.
At a press conference in Dhobley town, the spokesman for the TFG forces and
the Ras Kiamboni BrIgade, Mr Abdi Nassir Serar, thanked Kenyan troops for
liberating the region and rescuing locals from the grip of al Shabaab.
"Kenyan soldiers have been very supportive, they have been aiding civilians
by flushing out al Shabaab insurgents using both land and air," said Mr
Serar, speaking through an interpreter.
A TFG soldier, Aden Omar, who is among nine others recovering at the Dhobley
General Hospital is among the fighters who was rescued by Kenyan troops
after being tortured and left for dead by the militants.
"We were patrolling Hawana area near Tabda town six days ago after we
managed to take it from the al Shabaab, but they regrouped and staged a
retaliatory attack and I was shot from behind while in keeping guard," said
Omar who is nursing two bullet wounds on both feet.
Meanwhile, the African Union on Friday dismissed claims by Somali insurgents
that they had killed dozens of alliance soldiers in Mogadishu, contending
that Shabaab had dressed the corpses of its own dead in AU uniforms as a
The Islamist militia displayed dozens of bodies on the outskirts of the
war-torn Somali capital on Thursday, claiming to have killed about 70
Somali press also reported that the militants had turned on residents of one
of their strongholds, Afmadow in Lower Jubba in Southern Somalia accusing
them of supporting the ongoing operation.
"The al Shabaab group has arrested a number of civilian people in the town
of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region of southern Somalia," reported the Shabelle
"The fighters of the insurgent group seized people accusing them of
supporting the Kenyan forces who entered Somalia to fight al Shabaab.
Reports say that the 18 apprehended people were taken into custody.
Well-known businessmen were among those arrested," the report added.
A local radio station also reported that over 60 al Shabaab militants had
been injured during fierce battles with the Kenyan troops in Tabto and
Qoqani which have been since captured by the Kenya Defence Forces.
"Over 60 wounded al Shabaab fighters have been taken to Kismayu town for
treatment after they were injured during the recent clashes in Tabto and
Qoqani, Lower Jubba.
Reports say militia from Ag-Libah and Hosingow who were wounded in an
arterial bombardment of foreign warplanes have also been taken to Kismayo,"
said Radio Bar-kulan.
Additional reporting by Issa Hussein, GALGAL BOCHA and Argaw Ashine
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Received on Sun Oct 23 2011 - 17:45:27 EDT