“Hundreds of youths were executed by their commanders when they attempted to surrender to the combined forces,” Ismael said in an interview. For several years, Kenya’s porous border was used to supply arms to the militia group but increased security surveillance has resulted in diminished supplies.
Mr Hassan Hussein, a trader, told The Standard at Afmadhow that the foreigners mostly speak English and communicate through interpreters.
Intelligence agencies in Kenya knew Al Shabaab was linked to the Al Qaeda but the militia group was not bold enough to go public until KDF entered Somalia. Some Kenyans and foreigners have been arrested and charged in court after being linked with the Al Shabaab while others have been set free following lack of incriminating evidence.
The terrorists have been using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and grenades to attack civilians, aid workers and police officers on patrol mainly in Nairobi and North Eastern Province. The same has been employed against security officers and civilians in crowded areas at the tourist city of Mombasa.
Following the collapse of the Islamic Court Union (ICU) in 2008, the Al Shabaab group took over major towns in Somalia and pushed for an Islamist rule.
“The group committed atrocities against the people with forced conscription of youths and elimination of those who opposed their ideals,” Nyagah stated.
Locals were forced to pay taxes and defaulters had their property and livestock confiscated, sold or slaughtered for feasting by the Al Shabaab who instilled fear among the people.
Kenyan forces were deployed to Somali under the Linda Nchi operation to safeguard the borders and protect tourists who had been targeted by the jihadists.
Kidnapping of tourists, abduction of citizens and aid workers, coupled with attacks on security officers strained the tourism industry after visitors opted for other destinations.
Intensified border patrols preceded the entry to Somalia by KDF through Dhobley, which resulted in a fierce resistance by the Al Shabaab.
“They had a force of 800 fighters near the border to fight KDF and a fierce battle lasting six hours ensued. But we liberated the town as the Al Shabaab fighters with the highest number of casualties retreated,” Nyagah said. About 200 militants were killed and about 68 injured.
According to Nyagah, KDF did not lose any soldier in the battle of Dhobley. Proximity of Dhobley to Daadab refugee camp in Kenya, which is a key source of goods and a recruitment centre of fighters, saw the terror group deploy large numbers to defend the town.