Kenya Navy to join battle for Kismayu
Kenya’s naval forces are likely to be in action, as the next phase of the military operation targeting the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia gets under way.
- Targeted sea port in Somalia is a bastion for the Al-Shabaab terror group whose capture is key in the military operation
Kenya’s naval forces are likely to be in action this week, as the next phase of the military operation targeting the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia gets under way.
The Navy has largely been missing in action for the two-weeks of the incursion as the Army and Air force pounded Al-Shabaab strongholds.
They have since taken control of areas deemed strategic in the quest to capture Kismayu — the main Al-Shabaab base.
Military sources in Kiunga and Lamu said the anticipated attack on Kismayu, a sea port and an Al-Shabaab bastion will definitely involve the Navy.
A senior officer at Department of Defence also said the Navy has been keeping vigil on the seas as part of the strategy within the ‘Operation Linda Nchi’.
“Our ships are at their bases near the operation zone and are ready for deployment whenever they are needed,” the senior officer told the Nation in an interview.
He cannot be named as he is not authorised to discuss the operation in the media.
On Wednesday, Kenyan troops and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government forces captured Burgabo, a town that served as an Al-Shabaab training centre and a frontier base for the militants.
The source said the Kenyan and TFG troops can take the mainland route from Kudai, Instanbul, Fuma and Mchoni from where they can approach Kismayu.
The second route would largely consist of a sea-borne attack involving the Navy as it entails manoeuvring around the dozens of islands in the area and crossing several channels.
Separately, two Al-Shabaab suicide bombers at the weekend attacked a base for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in which three Ugandan soldiers were killed.
The militant group, however, claimed that over 80 Amisom soldiers were killed in the Mogadishu attack.
Lt-Gen Katumba Wamala, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces commander in charge of Lands Forces, confirmed the Saturday suicide attack on AU troops, but said only three soldiers died and two seriously injured.
Military Spokesman Felix Kulayigye corroborated Lt-Gen Katumba’s version of the story, saying three soldiers died and an equal number injured, two seriously.
The militant gang claimed in a press statement that “the Mujahideen stormed an Amisom compound, killing 80 Ugandan soldiers.”
“Those injured have been flown for treatment to Nairobi Hospital,” Col Kulayigye said. “An investigation is being carried out to establish how this attack happened.”
Mr Wafula Wamunyinyi, the deputy head of Amisom while condemning the attack, placed the death toll at four.
“They were killed in a suicide attack by Somalia insurgents dressed in TFG uniforms,” he said.
He added: “They approached the front line and then exploded their bombs. Four of the Amisom soldiers died on the spot and seven were injured.”
Executed by terrorists
The AU in a press statement said the midday attack was executed by terrorists, including two suicide bombers disguised as Somali Army troops, who attempted to recapture an area near German Steel Factory, which they lost two months ago.
Amisom troops repulsed the militants, the AU said.
The Amisom spokesperson, Lt-Col Paddy Ankunda, who is on the ground in Mogadishu in a telephone interview declined to quote the number of soldiers lost in the weekend battle.
“We sustained some casualties but I do not have the figures yet,” he said.
Uganda has over 6,000 soldiers in the African peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
Reports by Mark Agutu, Tabu Butagira and Abdulkadir Khalif