Kenyan troops reach out to Somali civilians

November 8, 2011 3:16 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 8 – Kenyan troops have now embarked on patrols and pacification in Somalia which is aimed at ensuring they rid the lawless country of Al Shabaab fighters and their sympathisers.

Military Spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir said the exercise involves soldiers moving from house to house to speak to residents as part of their strategy of winning their support in the fight against the Al Shabaab militants.

“This pacification patrols reinforce the operation objectives and facilitate access by international aid organisations in the liberated areas,” the army spokesman said.

The exercise kicked off on Tuesday morning but Maj Chirchir did not state how long it would last.

Kenyan troops appear to have slowed down their aggressive war with Al Shabaab militants for the past week, due to what Maj Chirchir is blaming on heavy rains in the southern parts of the lawless country so far taken over by the Kenyan troops.

The Kenyan troops have been strategising on how to launch attacks on key targets including the port of Kismayu which is largely controlled by the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.

Kenyan troops and navy personnel have intensified patrols in Al Shabaab dominated regions in Somalia and border areas in the past three weeks and even killed dozens.

Last week, Maj Chirchir announced their navy personnel had sunk two boats killing at least 18 Al Shabaab fighters but the issue soon generated controversy from Coast residents who claimed those killed were innocent Kenyan fishermen who were returning home after fishing expeditions at the border areas.

The Kenya Navy has declared some of the areas along the border points in the Indian Ocean as no-go zones.

Regions so far taken over by Kenyan solders in Southern Somalia have also been declared no-fly zones after aircrafts reportedly dropped weapons to the Al Shabaab militants.

The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) have warned residents of Kismayu and some ten towns surrounding it to be alert and keep off from Al Shabaab militants due to an imminent attack planned there soon.

On Friday, the defense forces headquarters in Nairobi said it had confirmed that Al Shabaab foreign fighters were preparing to escape to Yemen.

“KDF has confirmed that foreign fighters have re-grouped in the town of Barawe and Marka in Somalia with the intent of fleeing to Yemen,” Maj Chirchir said. “We therefore, warn any merchant ships operating along this sea lane of communication to be very cautious.”

Locally, police said they had intensified patrols in the capital city and far flung areas at the border points to guard against reprisal attacks by the Al Shabaab militants who have vowed to attack “Kenya in all fronts.”

In Nairobi, 21 suspected Ethiopian immigrants were arrested in Eastleigh estate as part of security operations put in place since Al Shabaab warned of revenge attacks.

Police said the suspects were arrested in a security operation targeting foreigners living in the country illegally.
The raid was conducted by Administration Police officers who raided two houses following a tip off that foreigners of Ethiopian origin were staying there and had no valid documents.

Police believe recent grenade attacks in Nairobi, Mandera and Sunday’s bomb attack in a Pentecostal church in Garissa where two people were killed and scores wounded is part of the revenge attacks by Al Shabaab and their sympathizers.

Two weeks ago, two grenades were detonated in separate venues in downtown Nairobi, killing one person and wounding more than 30 others.

A man who confessed in court to be an Al Shabaab militant responsible for the twin attacks was jailed for life after he was found in possession of 13 grenades and a cache of firearms.


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