Troops belonging to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have killed 49 al Shabaab fighters and captured the town of Aglibah as they march on the Somali port city of Kismayo, one of al Shabaab’s main strongholds.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said that 42 al Shabaab fighters were killed on Wednesday in the battle in southern Somalia. AMISOM forces recovered 23 AK-47 assault rifles, six rocket propelled grenades, 428 rounds of ammunition and other assorted weapons.
“AMISOM forces together with TFG [Somali transitional government] soldiers in sector two conducted a raid at an al Shabaab stronghold base in Aglibah area near Beles Qooqani on August 29. The raid neutralized 42 Al-Shabaab militias with scores of others escaping with multiple injuries,” Chirchir said in a statement released in Nairobi. In addition to capturing weapons, Chirchir said that four al Shabaab vehicles, one water bowser and a trucker were destroyed in the operation.
“One TFG soldier sustained minor injuries and was flown to Dobley for medical attention. The joint forces have since occupied the area and are carrying out pacification operations,” Chirchir said.
Yesterday another seven militants were killed as they attempted to attack an AMISOM convoy, which included Kenyan troops, bringing the death toll to 49 in the two days of fighting.
Earlier this week AMISOM forces captured the town of Marka, 90 km south of the Somali capital Mogadishu. This was al Shabaab’s third largest stronghold and had been under its control since November 2008.
“Our enemies will never control Marka peacefully,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab’s military operation, told Reuters on Monday.
A number of al Shabaab’s top commanders had fled towards Marka in recent months following a string of victories by AMISOM.
“The capture of Marka is also critical for AMISOM future operations to liberate the city of Kismayo, the extremists’ largest source of illicit revenue,” it said in a statement.
Somalia has been mired in civil strife, grinding poverty, Islamist militancy and maritime piracy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, leaving the nation without an effective central government.
The country was supposed to elect a new speaker of parliament and a new president before August 20, but the deadline was missed. A speaker was elected on Tuesday, but the key question is whether the new government can break the pattern of ineffective interim administrations in recent years.
Under the terms of a political road map, Somalia must establish a legitimate government seen as inclusive by the country’s fractious clans.
The new government will replace an 8-year-old Transitional Federal Charter and lead to the conclusion of the transition process.
Although AMISOM has managed to drive al Shabaab out of the capital Mogadishu, the rebels remain the strongest of an array of militias which have a history of wrecking political settlements and perpetuating war, instability and famine.