By Cyrus Ombati
Kenya Defence Forces alongside Amisom have taken control of Al Shabaab stronghold and headquarters of Kismayu in Somalia.
Kenya military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said Kismayu fell at 2am Friday after a fierce battle with the terror militants.
The troops are urging the residents of the port to avoid areas under their control to avoid any form of collateral damage.
The port was the last bastion for the Somalia militants al-Shabaab which has been in control for the last couple of years.
Department of Defence headquarters said in a tweet the troops are in control of Kismayu without elaboration.
“KDF troops have taken control of Kismayu. Residents are advised to avoid areas where KDF and Somalia National Army troops are to avoid collateral damage,” said KDF in a tweet.
Spokesman Col. Oguna said the first group of troops arrived at Kismayu at about 2 am on Friday.
“Yes our troops are in control of Kismayu and urge residents to avoid the areas they are for now,” said Col Oguna.
The incident came two days after KDF jets and ships destroyed Al-Shabaab armoury store and warehouse after shelling Kismayo airport in an attack that shaped up the take over of the port.
It was the second time in less than a month that the troops were hitting Kismayu. Other reports indicated Islamist group Hizbul Islam has broken ranks with Al-shabaab militants. This has weakened the gang in many ways.
Lobby groups had warned that there could be many more civilian casualties in the battle ground which often go unreported.
The AMISOM forces are now pacifying the port of Kismayu—seen as the bedrock of the Al Shabaab militants.
Kenyan forces have warned civilians to keep off targeted towns, including Kismayu which are likely to experience major confrontations in the coming weeks.
“The capture of Kismayu is imminent. Kenya Government extends amnesty to Kenyans fighting in Somalia as Alshabaab. Retreat peacefully now,” said KDF in an earlier tweet as they headed for the port city.
There are tens of Kenyans who crossed to Somalia to fight alongside the militants. Some have been killed there while others are yet to come back.
The troops added they are concerned about the safety and security of civilians as efforts to capture Kismayu gather momentum and urged them to stay clear of Al Shabaab targets.
They also appealed to humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of the people fleeing to areas liberated by AMISOM and Somali security forces.
The troops have captured various towns in their advance to Kismayu, resulting to the killing of more than 1000 Al Shabaan militants.