, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – One of the top Al Shabaab commanders is believed to have been killed alongside 13 other militants in the latest attack by Kenya Defence Forces in Southern Somalia.
Military Spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said Abu Yahya who is Al Shabaab’s field commander in the Southern sector might have been killed during the Tuesday afternoon raid at Dalayat region.
“The joint operation between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers and the Kenya Defence Forces yesterday (Tuesday) might have killed one of Al Shabaab’s top commanders during a raid at Dalayat in sector south,” Chirchir said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Dalayat region is considered an Al Shabaab stronghold and doubles as the militant’s command centre, Chirchir said.
“One of the KDF soldiers was injured during the incident and flown to Garissa military camp for further medical attention,” the military spokesman added.
The military has been fighting Al Shabaab in Somalia since October last year following a spate of criminal activities by the militants, including kidnappings in Kenya.
At least 15 Kenyan soldiers have been killed in the battle that has also left hundreds of the militants dead.
On Saturday, the Kenyan military renewed its calls to the international community seeking a boost in humanitarian and technical support in the ongoing offensive in Somalia, against the Al Shabaab.
KDF Officer in charge of operations and information Cyrus Oguna told journalists the military operations in Somalia had significantly increased the demand for humanitarian assistance among the Somali people, which could not be solely provided by KDF.
He added that there was need for the international community to boost the force’s military abilities in order to ensure that the gains realised in the offensive were not watered down.
Oguna also assured non governmental organisations of adequate security provision saying they need not pull out their assistance.
“We have moved beyond where we were last week but these areas have got people who are in real need of assistance. KDF’s primary objective is not to provide humanitarian assistance; we are a military organisation,” he asserted.
“But we can create an environment that can facilitate the provision of assistance by appropriate agencies,” he said revealing that KDF was in the process of setting up water dams and access roads for the local people.
The African Union has already endorsed calls to expand the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) but this requires more financial assistance.
Oguna was however unable to put a figure on how much the military operation had cost the Kenyan tax payer. He said that the fact that the operations were still ongoing made it impossible to make a full financial account.
“We must accept that war is expensive. We’ve had shuttle diplomacy, air craft costs, sea patrols and surveillance and other engagements that are expensive. But our concern right now is how much we lost before we went into Somalia,” he said.
“So whatever the cost, I think Kenyans wherever they are, are willing to dig deep into their pockets and fund it (the offensive),” he argued.
Oguna further refuted claims that a top military officer had been selling out Kenya’s military information to the Al Shabaab saying those allegations were unfounded.
“This was propaganda that was actually spurned by someone trying to destruct our efforts to try and cause disharmony. We are not saying this here for PR purposes; we are telling you what is. They say figures don’t lie but liars figure but we are not figuring anything here,” he retorted.