KISMAYO, Somalia Jun
7 2012 (Garowe Online) – The Al Shabaab controlled port city of
Kismayo, was shelled by helicopters on Thursday, as Kenyan troops backed by
Somali forces attempt to capture the city, Garowe Online reports.
According to local sources in the Lower Juba region, the airstrikes hit
three districts under Baadeera and Kismayo city. Bulohaji, Sadeh Lugood
and Santaro districts were hit heavily by helicopters that belong to the Kenyan
military, residents said.
There have been no reports of casualties as of yet, but residents suggest
that the size of the bombardment could result in many civilian casualties.
In an effort to cripple Al Shabaab in Kismayo, Kenya has reverted to strikes
from both naval warships and helicopters. Kenyan troops entered
Somalia in October of last year, and as of yet have failed to capture the
stronghold of Kismayo.
Naval warships patrolling the coast of Kismayo have targeted militant camps
and bases in the port city. According to Kenyan military spokesman Emanuel
Chirchir, 11 alleged Al Shabaab militants were killed after long range naval
guns targeted a suspected Al Shabaab camp. However residents of Kismayo have
expressed concern over the airstrikes which they say led to civilian
Last Tuesday’s airstrikes in Kismayo led to a mother and her child
sustaining critical injuries after a mortar hit their home early that
Mohamed Ali, a Garowe resident whose family lives
in Kismayo, said that the terrorist organization has barricaded Kismayo
prohibiting residents’ entry or exit. “My wife told me that the Al Shabaab have
refused people to leave the city and they are now forced to deal with the
onslaught that the Kenyan and Somali forces plan to bring,” said Mr. Ali.
Before AMISOM and Somali forces entered the Afgoye corridor, UN’s Mark Bowden warned African
Union troops of the possible civilian casualties in the former Al Shabaab
stronghold, but as AMISOM and Somali forces entered the town the militant group
fled. Afgoye is home to 400,000 internally displaced peoples (IDPs).
However Kismayo, unlike Afgoye supplies the terrorist organization with
steady revenue in the form of taxes and is an extremely strategic city for the
Al Shabaab, who has reportedly reinforced their numbers in the port city which
is home to many top Al Shabaab leaders.
“I fear innocents will be harmed in this operation because it looks like Al
Shabaab is prepared to defend the city; refusing residents exit while Kenyan and
Somali forces advance,” said Mr. Ali.
Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab spokesman of the Al Shabaab said that capturing
Afmadow was only a dream to the Kenyan army who alongside Somali forces
captured the town of Afmadow - 111kms north of Kismayo - after a fierce battle with Al Shabaab militants.