News / Africa

    Al-Shabab Withdraws From Kismayo

    Picture of Kismayo, Somalia, taken September 28, 2012.
    Picture of Kismayo, Somalia, taken September 28, 2012.
    Gabe JoselowMohammed Yusuf
    The Somali militant group al-Shabab says it has withdrawn from its last major stronghold in southern Somalia, following a military strike led by Kenyan armed forces.  The militant group says its retreat from Kismayo is a tactical decision and warns that they will continue to fight in the city.

    Residents in Kismayo say al-Shabab fighters left the city early Saturday a day after Kenya launched a major attack targeting the militants from the land, air and sea.

    An al-Shabab spokesman said the group’s commanders had ordered the tactical withdraw from the city.  A message from a militant-linked Twitter account warned of more fighting, saying Kismayo will be “transformed from a peaceful city… into a battle-zone.”

    Kenyan forces, which are part of the African Union peacekeeping mission known as AMISOM, claim to be in control of some areas in the north of the city.

    Al-Shabab Timeline
     
    2006: Launches insurgency to topple Somali government, impose Islamic law
     
    2008: U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
     
    2009: Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu, Kismayo
     
    2010: Expands control across central and southern Somalia; carries out deadly bombings in Kampala, Uganda in first attack outside Somali
     
    2011: Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
     
    2011: East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat, Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
     
    2012: Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, troops advance on the group's stronghold Kismayo
    Residents say the exit of al-Shabab has left a security vacuum in the south, and reported seeing looting of homes and offices.

    Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna says soldiers are preparing to move into other parts of the town to confirm whether any al-Shabab remnants have stayed behind.

    “In the south, now that they’re getting into the south, we’ll be able to determine that when they get there. But information that is trickling in from unconfirmed quarters is that al-Shabab rolled down their tents yesterday in the night and part of today in the morning,” said Oguna.

    Somali National Army Commander Abdullahi Olow said Somali and African Union forces are still closing in on
    Kismayo from the north and plan to full control over security in the city.

    An undated handout photograph released by Kenya's Ministry of Defense on September 29, 2012, shows members of the Kenyan Defense Forces during an operation at an undisclosed location in Somalia.An undated handout photograph released by Kenya's Ministry of Defense on September 29, 2012, shows members of the Kenyan Defense Forces during an operation at an undisclosed location in Somalia.
    x
    An undated handout photograph released by Kenya's Ministry of Defense on September 29, 2012, shows members of the Kenyan Defense Forces during an operation at an undisclosed location in Somalia.
    An undated handout photograph released by Kenya's Ministry of Defense on September 29, 2012, shows members of the Kenyan Defense Forces during an operation at an undisclosed location in Somalia.
    He told VOA that his forces were attacked by some al-Shabab fighters Saturday outside Kismayo.

    "We encountered al-Shabab in two small villages on our way to Kismayo, and we crushed them," he said. "They are using young fighters who they are stationing on the roads."

    Al-Shabab has been weakened as a military and political force since being driven out of the Somali capital Mogadishu by African Union forces last year.  Since then, the group has relied on the Kismayo seaport as a source of revenue and supplies.

    Kenyan spokesman Oguna says part of AMISOM’s military objective is to destroy these supply lines to further weaken the group’s capabilities.

    "Once their logistic bases have been taken out, their ammunition dumps have been hit and destroyed and the seaport is no longer in their control, it might be very hard to sustain," he said.

    Kenyan forces first entered southern Somalia in October last year after a series of cross-border kidnappings that Kenya blamed on Somali militants.

    The forces were integrated into the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in June.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Paul Gesimba from: Nairobi
    October 01, 2012 9:19 AM
    The Al Shabab and their terror networks have caused the worst humanitarian crisis in History with the World largest refugee camps in Kenya with refugees fleeing their draconian laws .I plead with President Obama whose father came from Kenya to send a clear message to the Al Shabab that the World cannot and will not tolerate their terror activities and networks .

    by: Chep from: USA
    September 30, 2012 12:35 AM
    Proud of kenyan and African Union Forces for their great, yet tough job so far to eradicate these selfish Somalia terrorists! It sends a clear message to all the tyrants and terrorists, that, the united peace loving world, will continue to fight them till they are wiped out from the face of the earth. Peace, Love & Unity

    by: Anonymous from: USA
    September 29, 2012 6:21 PM
    Congratulations to the Kenyan forces for an intelligent campaign to free these people, allowing them to return from Muslim Law (Sharia) back to human rights.

    by: washingtone onyango from: nairobi
    September 29, 2012 4:50 PM
    "KDF congrats keep it up and go ahead and destroy more we wish you success"

    Al Shabaab should be crashed by all means and resources available at our disposal
    KDF and AMISOM deserves honour. lets pray for them as they guard our neighbors.

    God almighty hs given us the victory. CHAI KISMAYU INDEED

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