, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) on Saturday said it had cut off 75 percent of the Al Shabaab revenue after weakening its major strongholds in Somalia.
Colonel Cyrus Oguna who is in charge of information and operation at the Department of Defense told a news conference that KDF and the Somali Transitional Federation Government soldiers had managed to destabilise the gang’s activities and operations in notable areas.
“Look at what they have lost against what is left, and bearing in mind that their activities in these areas have reduced because of fear of attacks by KDF. In our own assessment 75 percent of revenue collection of Al Shabaab has been disrupted,” he asserted.
Oguna felt that Al Shabaab also suffered major losses after several key commanders and financiers were killed in the operation that started 119 days ago.
Oguna who acknowledged the remarkable progress said losing their main point men was core to weakening its operations due to lack of financial sustenance and commands to guide their criminal activities.
As a result of the financial and control constraints the Al Shabaab foreign and local commanders have resulted to internal wrangles which according to Oguna have further affected their activities.
“The local fighters are the ones pushed to the war front but they have not been paid for a while. Therefore the local fighters are feeling cheated. The commanders of the local fighter and the commanders of the foreign fighters are at loggerheads, the loss of revenue, loss of command, then you can appreciate where Al Shabaab is now,” remarked Oguna.
On the latest announcement that Al-Qaeda had merged with Al Shabaab to retaliate the attacks by KDF in Somalia, Oguna said it is a new strategy of comforting the militias who are fighting due to lack of payment.
“That announcement of a merger is more self serving. They have always been operating under the same ideology,” he said as he vowed that KDF will fight the group no matter the names they brand themselves to look tough.
“To us as KDF nothing has changed. We will keep hitting them irrespective of which name they use. They have called themselves ‘Somalia Islamic Emirates’ we hit them! Now they are calling themselves ‘Al Qaeda Al Shabaab’ we will hit them again!” he warned.
Oguna pledged KDF’s commitment to shake all Al Shabaab territories though he noted several other areas were not yet within their reach until they ensure the places where they have displace the Al Shabaab from are secure and stable.
However he said Kismayu which is one of the areas of the Al Shabaab is also in the agenda of the KDF operation. “We did not go to Somalia to secure territories. We went to reduce Al Shabaab capacity to their threat to this country, Kismayu remains as any other Al Shabaab target to us, therefore when the time is right for us to go to Kismayu, we will.”
He also promised families of the Kenyans still missing in Somalia that the KDF soldiers were working hard to rescue them.
Oguna explained that since the operation started 17 weeks ago, 9 Kenyan soldiers were killed, 24 others were injured out of which 10 are still hospitalised.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said following investigations on self improvised explosives in the North Eastern region, two people are likely to face prosecutions.
He said the police are on high alert to combat crime activities related to Al Shabaab especially in Moyale.
Kiraithe further said the security forces in the country will remain alert especially now that Al Shabaab had been almost overpowered by the KDF.
He urged Kenyans to continue observing security measures to ensure the militia group do not take advantage of security lapses to vent its anger.