Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids

Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids
Updated 11 January 2014

Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids

Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids

NAIROBI: Kenya’s military has killed more than 30 Al-Shabab militants, including commanders, a spokesman said, in its first major barrage of airstrikes in Somalia since the retaliation for the militants’ attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.
Kenyan fighter jets hit a camp at Garbarahey in the Gedo region on Thursday evening, where the militants, who profess links to Al-Qaeda, were holding a meeting, the military said.
Al Shabab has been weakened by African Union troops over the past two years, ushering in some stability in many parts of the Horn of Africa country after a campaign of cross-border raids and kidnappings of Westerners and security forces.
However, the rebels, who have waged a seven-year insurgency seeking to impose a strict interpretation of sharia law in Somalia, stunned the world in September when they attacked an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people.
Thursday’s air raids were the first since October, when Kenyan warplanes bombed targets held by the militants in reprisal for the attack on the mall..
“There are remnants of Al-Shabab that are still trying to draw back the gains that have been made (against them),” Kenyan military spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna told Reuters on Friday.
“Those remnants are the ones we are focusing on now.”
Despite more than two years of attacks on Al-Shabab positions by Kenyan and other east African troops, there is no clear picture of how many are involved in the movement or whether its numbers have been eroded by the intervention.
After October’s raid, the Kenya Defense Forces said it destroyed a training camp, killing or wounding many of the more than 300 fighters there.
The militants, who said they attacked the shopping center because of Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, denied there had been any attack then and was not immediately available to comment on Friday.
It was not immediately clear what, if anything other than opportunity, had triggered Thursday’s raids.
Residents in Gedo, however, said Al-Shabab has been regrouping its fighters in the area over the past days.