War against Al Shabaab has been long drawn

By Dann Okoth

KENYA: The capture of Kismayu by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and Amisom on September 28, last year, marked a turning point in a war that has stretched over decades and nearly obliterated a country.

The ouster of Mr Muhammad Siad Barre in 1990 set in motion a chain of events in Somalia that would leave the country in tatters and its people on the edge of a precipice. Kenya became involved in the war after the militant Al Shabaab that had apparently overrun Somalia threatened its borders.

Kenya’s incursion into Somalia started after the kidnapping of two Spanish women, who were working for Medecins Sans Frontiers at the Dadaab refugee camp by Al Shabaab. The KDF deployment had received approval from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). Dubbed Operation Linda Inchi the incursion was meant to flush Al shabaab from Somalia with the longterm aim of bringing stability to the neighbouring country and protecting Kenya’s borders.

But since the launch of the operation leading to the capture of Kismayu, which was the fortress of Al Shabaab, there have been mixed results, with Al Shabaab carrying out attacks in various parts of the country. Here is a look at the chronology of events:

September 28, 2012: KDF announces the capture of Kismayu after the Somali National Army and Kenyan AU naval, air and ground forces and the Somali National Army launched a surprise attack, capturing the city with little resistance from Al Shabaab.

September 1: Somalia Government forces assisted by African Union troops continue their march toward Kismayu, capturing the southern town of Miido, situated 86 kilometres from the Al Shabaab stronghold. As many as 36 insurgents were reportedly slain in the assault. Amisom also deny claims that the insurgents had seized back Afmadow, and dismiss as “untrue Al Shabaab propaganda” reports that the militant group had gunned down an AU helicopter.

October 16, 2011: A coordinated incursion in southern Somalia between Kenyan troops and the Somalian army begins as a response to alleged kidnappings of foreigners by Al Shabaab militants in Kenya.

October 28, 2011: A Kenyan supply convoy traveling 60km inside Somalia territory in the direction of Kismayu comes under attack from Al Shabaab fighters. The fight lasts for 30 minutes. According to the Kenyan military, nine Al Shabaab fighters are killed and two Kenyan soldiers wounded. Al Shabaab denies those figures and claims 20 Kenyan soldiers were killed.

Some of attacks against Kenya by Al Shabaab since 2011

Monday October 24, 2011: A grenade is hurled at Mwaura’s bar along Mufangano Street killing one person and wounding 20 others. Later in the day another grenade is tossed out of a moving vehicle into the Machakos bus terminus, leaving five people dead and 59 men and 10 women seriously injured.

April 29, 2012: God’s House of Miracles Church at Ngara is attacked after one of the worshippers hurls a grenade into it.

May 15, 2012: Three grenades are hurled at the Belle Vista nightclub in Mombasa, killing one and leaving five others injured. The attacker also fires indiscriminately into the nightclub.

June 24, 2012: A grenade is hurled at Jericho Beer Garden in Mishomoroni, in Kisauni Mombasa killing four people and injuring 30 more. It is claimed that a nine-year-old boy was among the attackers.

July 1, 2012: Masked gunmen attack two churches simultaneously in Garissa, killing 17 people and leaving 50 others seriously injured. Among the dead are two police officers that were manning the premises.

September 20, 2012: A nine-year-old boy is killed when a grenade is hurled at Sunday school children at St Polycarp Anglican Church along Juja Road in Nairobi.