, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 3 – Kenya Navy forces on Wednesday sunk a skiff transporting fuel to Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia, killing 18 insurgents.
Military Spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said the skiff was sunk in the Indian Ocean at about 5pm on Wednesday as it headed to Kuday inside Somalia.
“A skiff laden with 18 Al Shabaab fighters was transporting fuel to Kuday. The Kenya Navy intercepted the skiff and sunk it killing all the militants,” the military spokesman said in a statement late on Thursday.
Chirchir also announced that they had learnt that Al Shabaab fighters had resorted to using alternative means of transporting their weapons, but assured that security had been intensified in all targeted regions.
“Information reaching us confirms that Al Shabaab has resorted to using donkeys to transport their weapons,” he said, adding that “The locals use donkeys to fetch water for domestic use. However, due to the heavy rains water fetching is not feasible.”
He said any large concentration and movement of loaded donkeys would be considered as Al Shabaab activity.
The Kenyan defence forces have also warned aircraft owners to avoid landing them in Baidoa “because they will be considered a security threat.”
He said an aircraft had been over flying their troops in all the three sectors secured in Somalia and warned that it will not be tolerated.
“Further unauthorised over flying on the said region will be considered a threat. In addition, all aircrafts are hereby warned not to land in Baidoa,” he warned. He added; “Anyone violating this will be doing so at their peril.”
Since Al Shabaab started using donkeys to transport weapons, Chirchir said the cost of donkeys even on the Kenyan side of the border had shot up, raising fears they were sold across to Somalia.
He said donkeys had been trading at Sh22, 500 but their cost had shot up to Sh30, 000.
“Kenyans dealing in donkey trade along the Kenya-Somali border are advised not to sell their animals to Al Shabaab as it would undermine our efforts in Somalia,” he warned.
Al Shabaab insurgents have lately accelerated their pace of arming themselves following warnings by the Kenyan troops advancing towards Kismayu, one of their major targets as they seek to eliminate Al Shabaab presence to pave the way for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) authority.
On Tuesday, the militants received two planeloads of arms followed by another one delivered to them on Wednesday morning, according to the army spokesman.
Asked to state the possible source of the armament supplies to Al Shabaab fighters, Chirchir said “at this point we are concentrating on how to disarm the enemy.”
Eritrea has been accused of supplying arms by air and sea to the Al Qaeda-linked fighters, but Asmara has repeatedly denied the claims.
On Tuesday, the defence headquarters in Nairobi warned residents in 10 Al Shabaab-controlled regions South of Somalia to beware of a major assault planned by its troops who were advancing towards the port of Kismayu.
Chirchir said Baidoa, Baadheere, Baydhabo, Dinsur and Afgooye were among the areas Kenyan troops intended to hit as they head to the Al Shabaab-controlled port which is their major source of revenue and contraband.
Regions of Bwale, Barawe and Jilib also remain under imminent attack of Kenyan troops.
“In line with the Kenya Defence Forces strategy of diminishing Al Shabaab effectiveness and weapon use, the aforementioned towns will remain under imminent attack. Residents in the towns are advised to avoid contact with Al Shabaab militia,” Chirchir warned.
Kenya’s military chief Julius Karangi has vowed his forces will only pull out of Somalia “when the Kenyan government and the people of this country feel they are safe enough.”