News / Africa

Kenyan Ships Shell al-Shabab Controlled Kismayo

Kenyan warships have shelled the Somali port of Kismayo.  Kenya says it shelled the al-Shabab-controlled port city of Kismayo after Kenyan ships came under fire.

Kenyan military spokesman, Cyrus Oguna, said “they fired at us and we fired back.”  Oguna says Kenya Defense Force ships routinely patrol the area, but this is the first time that they have engaged in combat in Kismayo.  He said he could not confirm casualties at this time.

Militants blamed Kenyan forces for the attack.  A Kismayo resident who prefers to give just his first name, Mohamed, said that the first shelling started just after three in the morning.

The warships at the coast of Kismayo started shelling the port, Mohamed says the warships started the shelling and al-Shabab returned fire.  He said the shelling stopped for a few hours before resuming midmorning.

The second shelling, which started just before 6:00 am local time, hit a house near the port, injuring an eight-year old boy.

The sister of the injured boy told said that the shell landed outside their home as the family was getting ready to start their day.

She says the mortar caused minor injuries to most of her family, but her her younger brother is the one who sustained serious head injuries.  He is now in critical condition.

Getting information - especially in Kismayo, the last remaining al-Shabab stronghold - has been difficult.  But for Mohamed all he wants is to tell the world is what is happening in his city.

Mohame says he has witnessed what has been happening around the seaport and he says residents are fearful of constant aircraft patrols, occasional attacks and to say anything publicly.

For the past couple of months, Kismayo has come under fire targeting al-Shabab from air and sea.  But Somali government fighters and African Union forces have yet to launch a full-scale assault on the city to free it from al-Shabab control, as it has done with other strategic areas.

In another development, security officials in Somalia say al-Shabab fighters have ambushed a convoy escorting Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as he returned from a visit to the recently liberated town of Afgoye.

The president was not harmed and has returned Mogadishu.  Several of his bodyguards were injured by the attack in the Alamada area between Mogadishu and Afgoye.

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