Somalis helping Kenyan forces tackle Shabaab

Somalis are volunteering information on Al Shabaab /FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19-The Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) are effectively dealing with the change of tact by the Al Shabaab following gradual acceptance by local Somalis.

According to Colonel Cyrus Oguna of the Department of Defence, the Kenyan forces are hugely benefiting from information and intelligence they are receiving from the people liberated from the Somali militia, Al Shabaab.

Colonel Oguna told journalists at the weekly briefing at the Ministry of Information that the success of the engagements with the Al Shabaab earlier in the week was testimony to this fact.

More than 30 Al Shabaab members were killed this week in raids by the military while others were arrested disguised as women in the border area of Sinai.

“The relationship between the KDF and the local Somali population has been growing and we are gaining acceptance because of the rapport that has been established, they have confidence in us and are volunteering information, in the coming days more towns will be captured courtesy to the co-operation of the locals,” Oguna said.

“The first engagement was in the general area of Busar on Sunday, nine Al Shabaab were killed, six injured. 12 Al Shabaab men were killed in the second engagement which also claimed three TFG soldiers.”

10 more militants were killed in the Kolbio area in the southern sector in two separate raids, one Kenyan soldier was killed while four AK-47 rifles were recovered.

Subsequently the KDF have taken over the Kolbio town a stronghold of the Al Shabaab in the South.

Lately the Al Qaeda inspired militants have been reported to use women and children as defensive shields and donkeys to transports their weapons.

Some have even gone as far dressing as women to escape the joint operation by Kenyan and Somali government (TFG forces).

Oguna said that Kenya had so far lost eight soldiers. Five perished in a helicopter crash and three who have succumbed to injuries sustained in engagements with the Al Shabaab.

Three other soldiers who sustained injuries in the battle field are recuperating in hospital and are said to be in stable condition.

Oguna has further appealed to the international community to come in and help in humanitarian operations as the defence forces continue to capture more towns.

“Our soldiers have tried to give food and medication, but we cannot both provide food and security. We appeal to the international community to come in now that normalcy is being restored in South Somalia,” he reiterated.

Last week Oguna expressed concerns that the humanitarian engagements would hamper the efforts to move forward and capture more towns.

Deputy Director at Foreign affairs division in charge of the Horn of Africa Lindsay Kipteness said that an extra ordinary IGAD summit is scheduled for the end of this month to discuss the possibility of getting additional soldiers to the AMISOM force.

The resolutions will be transferred to the African Union summit scheduled for January 2012 and later to the UN Security Council for discussion.

On Thursday, Somalia and Uganda agreed on a co-ordinated approach with Kenya in fighting the Al Shabaab militia to maintain peace in the region at a meeting held between President Mwai Kibaki, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed at State House Nairobi.

Kipteness also allayed fears that the operation in Somalia was bound to hamper humanitarian efforts and appealed to aid organizations to move into towns freed from the Al Shabaab.

Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino has urged for more vigilance in public places particularly supermarkets as the ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ enters its six week.

LORDRICK MAYABI

Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.