Saturday, January 7, 2012

KDF: We have killed 700 militants

Kenya waits on AMISOM verdict
By PETER NG’ETICH pngetich@ke.nationmedia.com

About 700 Al-Shabaab militants have been killed since the launch of Operation Linda Nchi.

Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said many others have been injured in the operation which started three months ago.

Col Oguna said only four civilians had been killed in the operation after an Al-Shabaab vehicle exploded as militants fled into an IDP camp to seek refuge.

Speaking at the twelfth media briefing at Teleposta Towers in Nairobi, Col Oguna said the latest killing was in Garbaharey in the Northern Sector where more than 60 militants died on Friday at around 3 pm after KDF jets pounded the area with bombs.

He said 50 others were injured while carrying out training to launch an offensive against KDF while nine technical vehicles were destroyed in the air strikes. The Sunday Nation could not independently verify the figures.

Col Oguna said KDF had to recall the aircraft on learning that the militants were using IDPs as shields.

“We do thorough research before we carry out air bombings. The militants have been setting up their bases near IDP camps for safety and also to get food,” he said.  

Col Oguna said some of the militants camouflaged themselves as civilians.

“We try as much as possible to avoid collateral damage, and whenever they mingle with civilian populations, we hold back our fire,” Col Oguna said.   

He said the threat before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays was real and that three militants were killed by police in Kiunga while trying to enter the country. Three others were arrested.

“On December 30, the militants abandoned a ship in Kiunga after learning that they were being pursued.

“We would like to thank Somalis and Kenyans who gave us crucial information during the period,” Col Oguna said.

The officer said about 30 militants had surrendered since the operation began.

“The defectors, including a captain, are offering us vital information and we are seeing this operation coming to a conclusion very soon,” Col Oguna, who was accompanied by police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, said.

He said the operation was three-quarters done and called on Somalis to volunteer more information on the remnants.

Col Oguna also said KDF had lost 11 fighters, including the five who died in an helicopter mishap in the early days of the operation.

The Army officer said KDF had advanced towards Afmadow and Kismayu which will fall soon because they are within a striking distance.

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