Skip to main content

Kenya military reports success in Somali fight

By Melissa Gray, CNN
October 1, 2012 -- Updated 0802 GMT (1602 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Kenyan military says it controls half of Kismayo
  • A Kenyan spokesman says Al-Shabaab is suffering leavy losses
  • Al-Shabaab says the military is waging a "losing battle"
  • The militant group has long tried to overthrow the Somali government

(CNN) -- Kenya's military controls half of the Somalian port city of Kismayo as it tries to drive out the al Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab from one of its last strongholds, a military spokesman said Saturday.

Kenyan and Somali ground forces are in control of the northern part, which is the old city, after a day and a half of fighting, spokesman Cyrus Oguna told CNN.

They are consolidating the areas they have gained before moving into the south, where the Islamic militant group is believed to be, he said. The military launched airstrikes against the group Saturday.

"Al-Shabaab has not been able to offer any resistance whatsoever to the ground forces since the ground forces landed there yesterday, and the whole of yesterday and the good part of today they have (suffered) heavy casualties," Oguna said.

More: Mogadishu bombing kills Somali broadcaster

The Kenya Defense Forces inflicted "massive destruction" on Al-Shabaab's infrastructure Saturday, using jets and helicopter gunships to destroy three of the group's bases, according to the military's official Twitter account. "Great care and caution has been exercised to avoid collateral damage," it said.

But in a series of posts Saturday on a Twitter account often used by Al-Shabaab, the group said the Kenyan military is "waging a losing battle" in Kismayo. It said mujahedeen forces ambushed Kenyan troops 30 km (18 miles) west of Kismayo, destroying three vehicles and killing dozens of troops in a two-hour battle.

Oguna said those reports are "pure propaganda."

"There has been no major ground forces engagement," he said.

Kenya's military makes up the majority of troops in an African Union offensive to drive Al-Shabaab out of Somalia, where the group has long tried to overthrow the government.

Al-Shabaab has suffered setbacks in the fight, including losing control of much of the capital, Mogadishu, last year. That made Kismayo even more critical for the group, which uses the port to profit from the illegal charcoal trade and smuggling operations.

More: Soldiers killed in blast targeting Somali president

Thousands of civilians fled the city this month as fighting loomed, according to the U.N. refugee agency. It said that Somalis were leaving in minibuses, in trucks and on donkey carts.

"Great care and caution has been exercised to avoid collateral damage," the Kenyan military said Saturday.

Since crossing into Somalia in October, Kenyan commanders and politicians have stated more than once that capturing Kismayo was the ultimate aim of their operation.

The military's operation to take Kismayo began with airstrikes and naval gun support three days before the ground troops arrived, Oguna said.

Twitter postings Friday from Kenya's prime minister and deputy prime minister congratulating the military on capturing Kismayo actually referred to the ground forces' arrival in the city, Oguna said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT