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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kenya and Somali TFG Forces Raid al Shabaab in Southern Somalia

Kenyan troops have crossed into Somalia and have driven out al-Shabab fighters from two bases near the border in a joint operation with Somali soldiers, according to a Somali military commander.

  • Kenya has said it will hunt the fighters they accuse of being behind several recent kidnappings of foreigners. 
  • Abdi Yusuf, a senior Somali military commander, said on Sunday that fighter jets struck two al-Shabab bases in southern Somalia, but could not confirm if the aircraft belonged to Kenya. "There have been air strikes in al-Shabab bases near Afmadow late yesterday and today. 
  • We are heading towards Afmadow now. Al-Shabab have already vacated the town," he said. 
  • Alfred Mutua, the Kenyan government spokesman, said that its troops had entered southern Somalia to fight the al-Shabab, who it says are responsible for attacks on its territory. 
  • In response, al-Shabab called on Somalis to rally and attack the Kenyan troops. "Kenya violated the territorial rights of Somalia by entering our holy land, but I assure you that they will return disappointed, God willing," 
  • Sheikh Hassan Turki, a senior al-Shabab leader, said. "Mujahideen fighters will force them to test the pain of the bullets." Turki called on Somalis to stand united against "this blood-thirsty enemy that has crossed into our territories and the apostate Somali militants helping them". 
Several witnesses reported heavy troop movement in Kenya's border regions, with lorries full of soldiers heading towards the frontier. The assault came a day after George Saitoti, Kenya's interior security minister, branded al-Shabab "the enemy" and pledged to attack them "wherever they will be".

  • In response to Kenya's deployment of forces in Somalia, Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage warned that Shabaab would retaliate with suicide bombings in Kenya, saying "[R]emember what happened in Uganda's capital," a reference to the 2010 Shabaab suicide attacks in Kampala that killed 76 people, according to The Associated Press. 
  • Kenya's decision to send troops into Somalia is interesting, as the Kenyan military has hitherto been cautious and largely stayed out of the fight in Somalia, with the exception of some border clashes with Shabaab. 
  • If Kenyan forces are in Qooqaani, and are moving toward Afmadow, then they've moved about 40-50 miles inside Somali territory. 
It remains to be seen if the Kenyans are committed to taking the fight to the port city of Kismayo, Shabaab's stronghold in the south.

The Rest @ Longar Journal

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