Reports: Kenyan air strikes target al-Shabab

Armed group denies AU mission's claim that 80 fighters killed in Anole and Kuday in southern Lower Jubba region.

    Reports: Kenyan air strikes target al-Shabab
    Soldiers from the AMISOM force launched a new offensive against al-Shabab fighters this year [AP]

    Kenyan fighter jets have attacked two bases belonging to al-Shabab fighters in Somalia and killed at least 80 of them, according to African Union (AU) troops deployed there.

    Al-Shabab denied any of its fighters had been killed in Monday's reported air strikes.

    The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), whose soldiers launched a new offensive against al-Shabab this year, said the Kenyan jets carried out the raids on Anole and Kuday in Somalia's southern Lower Jubba region.

    It did not say when they took place.

    "The air strikes in Anole left more than 30 al-Shabab fighters dead, three technical vehicles and one Land Cruiser loaded with ammunition destroyed," AMISOM said.

    More than 50 fighters were killed in the Kuday raid, it said.

    Responding to the AMISOM statement, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al- Shabab's spokesman for military operations, told Reuters news agency the group did not have any bases in the area of the raids, which it said took place on Thursday.

    "Only pastoralists were around there and luckily no goat was injured, let alone a civilian," he said.

    Kenya first sent its troops into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 after several attacks inside its territory that it blamed on al-Shabab, and later joined the peacekeeping force.

    The armed group has since carried out a string of attacks to punish Kenya for its intervention.

    Al-Shabab fighters killed at least 67 people in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall last year.

    Towns in dire state

    AMISOM says al-Shabab has lost control of more than 10 major towns in the ongoing offensive by its troops, including soldiers from Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Burundi and Sierra Leone.

    "AMISOM continues to up the pressure on al-Shabab with a view to liberating more areas in forthcoming operations," the force said.

    Officials and diplomats have said towns cleared of al-Shabab are in a dire state, with food stocks emptied and largely abandoned by their inhabitants, creating what one envoy described as "ghost towns".

    They say al-Shabab still controls tracts of countryside, making it difficult for supplies to be moved to the towns.

    Somalia's government is struggling to impose order since the AU peacekeepers, backed by Somali troops, drove al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011.

    More than two decades of conflict have left Somalia in ruins, while al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab has continued guerrilla-style attacks and suicide bombings.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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