Kenya’s military warned the residents of 10 towns in Somalia including the port city of Kismayu, Baidoa and Afgoye near the capital Mogadishu, that they “will be under attack continuously”.
Kenyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said on his Twitter account that anyone with relatives and friends in the towns listed should be advised accordingly. Chirchir did not answer phone calls from Reuters seeking further comment.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia in mid-October in pursuit of the Somali militants it blames for a series of kidnappings on Kenyan soil and frequent assaults on its security forces along its northern border with the Horn of Africa nation, Reuters reports.
The fact the towns listed include places beyond the southern part of Somalia where Kenyan troops are advancing suggests the east African country may step up airstrikes on areas where al Shabaab rebels have strongholds.
The main objective of Kenyan ground forces is to seize the southern port of Kismayu, as this is a key al Shabaab stronghold and an important source of funding for the al Qaeda-linked militants, and to dismantle the rebel network.
“Operation Linda Nchi is on course, advance to Kismayu is on schedule,” Chirchir said.
The Kenyan operation is called Linda Nchi, which means “Protect the Nation” in the Swahili language.
Other towns listed by the Kenyan Defence Forces spokesman included Buale, Afmadow, Baar Dheere, Dinsoor and Jilib, the place hit by a Kenyan airstrike on Sunday.