KDF captures Al-Shabaab’s entry point for smuggled goods

NAIROBI: The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Somalia troops in the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) have captured a key port town of Kuday from Al-Shabaab fighters.

Department of Defence headquarters said Sunday a major beach landing operation was carried out at 4.30am in which several Al-Shabaab fighters were killed.

Spokesman Col David Obonyo said five technical vehicles belonging to the fighters were destroyed and ammunition seized.

“Kuday was the remaining Al-Shabaab stronghold in Somalia and this is a major loss to the militia which limits their freedom of action,” said Obonyo.

The militants used the town as a key base for their logistical and operational work from where they launched attacks in southern Somalia, he added.

He said in a statement Amisom is in control of adjacent islands of Mdoa and Dagaz. The town was also used as an entry point of contraband goods. Obonyo said the personnel there are now in control of key ports in Sector two.

The successful operation came a week after a senior Al-Shabaab militant Adan Garar was killed in Bardhere in a US drone attack.

Garaar was involved in the organization of Westgate attack in which up to 70 people were killed in September 21, 2013.

Garar was  the highest-ranking Al-Shabaab commander to be killed since Ahmed Abdi Godane was eliminated in a similar strike in September 2014.

Although KDF did not take part in Garar’s killing, the Kenyan military exchanged intelligence with the US forces before the operation was conducted.

KDF went to Somalia in October 2011. Kenya's incursion into southern Somalia started after the kidnapping of two Spanish women, who were working for MSF at the Dadaab refugee camp.

The abductions were carried out by the militants who the troops said planned to push away under the Operation Linda Nchi.

Two years later, the troops managed to take control of Kismayo port under Operation Sledge Hammer.

Initially a team of about 2000 troops had been engaged in the operation but the number doubled when Kenya joined UN’s AMISOM.

The Kenyan military says there is no set exit date for the operation, but the indicator of the mission's success would be a crippling of Al-Shabaab's capacity.

There is pressure from sections of Kenyans to withdraw the troops but officials say their mission there is not yet complete.

The militants have struck Kenya more than twice demanding the withdrawal of the troops.