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Al Shabaab propaganda war

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Updated Sunday, November 13th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Alex Ndegwa

As the defining battles of Afmadow and Kismayu loom large, what Kenya will now have to increasingly deal with is the challenge of telling the truth apart from Al Shabaab propaganda.

Mr Lindsay Kiptines (right)of Foreign Affairs ministry in charge of Horn Of Africa addresses the Press on the situation in Somalia. He is flanked by Col Cyrus Oguna of Defence Forces. Picture: Tabitha Otwori/Standard

On Saturday, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) warned for the umpteenth time that the Al Qaeda-linked terror group – which is feeling the heat from twin-assaults by Kenya and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government forces – had changed their attack tactics and was engaging in a propaganda war to shore up their dwindling support and dampen morale of forces ranged against it.

KDF and allied TFG forces are preparing for a final push on Al Shabaab strongholds, even as ordinary citizens in some regions of the war-torn country and in the Diaspora denounced the militia.

The allied forces have seized swathes of southern Somalia from fleeing insurgents and have focused on patrols, pacification, and humanitarian assistance in liberated areas.

The KDF has, however, cautioned that the assault against the key towns of Afmadow and Kismayu – that are under the control of Al Shabaab – may take a little while longer as the military engages in humanitarian assistance and gathers intelligence in response to new methods adopted by the ragtag group.

With Al Shabaab’s grip on the lawless nation apparently slipping after a month of the KDF operation, the militia group has ratcheted up its rhetoric, mounting parades of its fighters and hardware in Marka, 500km north of Kismayu in a show of force.

In the past week, the insurgents have generated reports – quoted extensively by Somalia and international media – claiming that the ragtag militia had ambushed and inflicted casualties on the Kenyan forces and seized military trucks and equipment.

Fabricated reports

But it is exactly such reports that the Kenya Defence Forces have come out to deny and warn Kenyans and the media about.

This week, military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir made it clear that Al Shabaab had fabricated the reports.

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