Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kenya and Amisom plan joint onslaught

Burundian peacekeepers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) patrol the streets of Dherkeynley district in Mogadishu January 21, 2009.

PHOTO/ FILE Burundian peacekeepers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) patrol the streets of Dherkeynley district in Mogadishu January 21, 2009. 

By PETER LEFTIE [email protected]

Kenyan military commanders and African Union peacekeepers in Somalia on Tuesday met to discuss new strategies in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda told Daily Monitor that the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia discussed the modalities of a joint operation between the Kenya Defence Forces and Amisom to rout the militants.

The meeting, Lt Col Ankunda said, was a follow-up on last week’s agreement by the leaders of Kenya, Uganda and Somalia to launch a joint onslaught against the militants.

Presidents Kibaki, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Somalia) met in Nairobi last week and agreed to join forces in the war against the militants. (READ: Joint Africa force to hunt militants)

It was not clear whether Amisom troops would team up with the Kenyan forces and Transitional Federal Government fighters to uproot Al-Shabaab from their bases in Southern Somalia.

Currently, Amisom troops are fighting Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu while Kenyan troops and Somali federal government fighters are concentrating on Southern Somalia.

Lt Col Ankunda said an offer by Kenya to send soldiers to Amisom would be considered. He warned that the militants had intensified attacks on Amisom positions in Mogadishu but said they would be defeated.

This comes is after Ugandan and Burundian Amisom troops killed 25 Al-Shabaab militants in fresh battles in Mogadishu on Sunday.

Critically injured

“One Burundian soldier was critically injured. Al-Shabaab received three aircraft recently which landed in Baidoa.

“They think they can recapture Mogadishu. But that is impossible,” Lt Col Ankunda said.

Meanwhile, Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir has warned that the militants planned to release a video clip showing allegedly captured Kenyan soldiers being executed. He said this was part of the propaganda campaign against the operation.

He said the relationship of the Kenyan and Somali military with the local people in the areas where Al-Shabaab have been flushed out continues to thrive.

“Based on this, we received concrete information of an arms trade and Al-Shabaab infiltration which were countered successfully,” he said in a statement.

He added that they have received information that Al-Shabaab are planning to release a video clip showing the execution of ‘a person or people’ alleged to be Kenyan troops captured during Operation Linda Nchi, the statement added.

He urged Kenyans and the media to ignore such propaganda. In Southern Somalia, local residents claimed fighter jets had attacked Al-Shabaab bases and killed three civilians on Tuesday.

“Two jets bombed Yaqle village, which lies between El Wak and Dhamase and three civilians were killed and several others injured,” reports quoted Moalim Abdulahi Mumin, an elder in El Wak on the Kenya-Somalia border, saying.

“The aircraft released several bombs and two of them hit near a shallow well where nomads were drawing water for their livestock... ost of the casualties are civilians,” he said.

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