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Kenya attacks last stronghold of Somali militants

Kenyan troops invaded al-Shabab’s last stronghold in Somalia on friday, coming ashore in a predawn assault.

Other African Union forces were travelling overland to link up with the Kenyan forces in the port city of Kismayo.

Col Cyrus Oguna, the Kenyan military’s top spokesman, said the surprise attack met minimal resistance but al-Shabab denied that the city had fallen and said fighting was taking place. Oguna said that al-Shabab has incurred ‘heavy losses’ but that Kenyan forces have not yet had any injuries or deaths.

Residents in Kismayo contacted by The Associated Press said that Kenyan troops had taken control of the port but not the whole city.

‘Al-Shabab fighters are on the streets and heading toward the front line in speeding cars. Their radio is still on the air and reporting the war,’ resident Mohamed Haji told The Associated Press. Haji said that helicopters were hitting targets in the town in southeastern Somalia.

A US military spokesman, Lt Cdr Dave Hecht, said the US Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, is closely monitoring the situation but that ‘we are not participating in Kenya’s military activities in the region.’

‘The operation began five days ago with surgical attacks and gun placement at the jetty and warehouse,’ Oguna said, adding that Somali national army troops participated in the assault.

An al-Shabab spokesman said on Twitter that the al-Qaida-linked militants still control Kismayo.

‘The enemy forces have launched a desperate attack on Kismayo this morning and the mujahedeen forces are resisting their attacks,’ Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab said over the militants’ radio station in Kismayo.

Oguna said the assault is part of a four-prong attack involving Kenyan forces currently in villages outside Kismayo.    
AP

AP

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