21 January 2012
The Kenyan military said on Saturday it is half way through its mission to eliminate Al Shabaab in Southern Somalia, the objective of Operation Linda Nchi, which enters its 15th week on Sunday.
Col Cyrus Oguna, who is in charge of information and operations, said the Kenya Defence Forces are now keen on destroying Al Shabaab’s command and logistics centres.
“As we are speaking now, Al Shabaab is halfway in the pit,” said Col Oguna at the 14th media briefing on the operation at the Department of Defence headquarters.
Col Oguna said the assessment of the progress made so far is based on the recent airstrikes at Bibi and Jilib a week ago, at Tatar the following day and Bula Haji in the Southern Sector on January 18.
A total of six vehicles- five Toyota Land Cruisers and a lorry- were destroyed in the airstrikes, with KDF saying it also killed six Al Shabaab commanders and an unknown number of members of the militia group.
Al Shabaab has however managed to raid Kenyan territory in Wajir, where an estimated 100 of their fighters destroyed an Administration Police camp in Gerille in Wajir and abducted three men, two of them civil servants.
The Kenyan government is seeking the release of the two identified as Edward Mule, a District Officer, and Fredrick Irungu, an immigration clerk, although the procedure of negotiation with an enemy under constant attack is unclear .
Col Oguna said the incident indicates the difficulty in identifying Al Shabaab members from ordinary Somali citizens, who pretend to be seeking medical assistance across the border as they carry out surveillance on possible targets.
“Isolated incidents will always be there but we will not come out (of Somalia) until we are sure every Kenyan is safe,” said Col Oguna.
He was accompanied by the director of Horn of Africa division at the Foreign Affairs ministry Lindsay Kiptiness and deputy police spokesman Charles Owino.
Mr Owino asked for increased vigilance and cooperation between restaurant operators and the police to avert possible terror attacks during the screening of Africa Cup of Nations football matches.
On Friday, police in Mombasa also arrested a man who was found taking photographs of the Central Bank in Mombasa, who also had photographs of other institutions in the coastal town, including the district commissioner’s office, Kenyatta University’s Mombasa campus main gate, the Bank of India and the Standard Chartered Bank.
The suspect had also taken pictures of a hotel and the Municipal Garden, a public park popular with civil servants a plane taking off and a bridge. The pictures are in the custody of the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit.
KDF is waiting for response from the United Nations Security Council on its proposal to operate in Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).