The Star (Nairobi)

Somalia: KDF Soldiers Almost Ready for Major Offensive

Photo: Capital FM
Al Shabaab militia (file photo): Since the fighters were ejected from the capital a year ago, they've sustained dramatic losses in central and southern Somalia - their traditional bastion.

Senior military officials and their African Mission in Somalia yesterday continued to plan the attack on Kismayu following the fall of Miido, a strategic defence position on Friday.

The military officials have been meeting to strategise on the attack on Kismayu which is al Shabaab's last stronghold in Somalia after the fall of Marka, and Afmadhow in the Juba area.

This is believed to be among the last planning meetings for the attack that will involve aerial, land and sea attack by troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti under the AMISOM umbrella.

Senior AMISOM, Ras Kamboni brigade and Somalia National Army officials visited Nairobi last month to make final arrangements of the attack but it was postponed after the three Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) transport and attack helicopters on their are way to join AMISOM troops crashed in Mt Kenya. .

It is expected that the attack and take over of Kismayu will happen before the September 20, 2012 Presidential election in Mogadishu.

AMISOM troops have been pounding Al Shabaab positions with aerial and and naval attacks to soften targets before the rolling in of troops.

The arrival of the long awaited Sh 4 billion frigate KNS JASIRI in the Mombasa naval base has also boosted AMISOM's capacity to launch aerial, land and seas attacks on the al Qaeda linked insurgents last stronghold.

During the commissioning of the KNS Jasiri in Mombasa last Wednesday, the Chief of Defence Force General Julius Karangi warned that Kenya was now ready to deal with her enemies with her superior arsenal.

Two Kenyan soldiers were killed in a fierce battle that saw 36 Al Shabaab fighters killed and seven of their fighting vehicles captured in Miido town on Friday.Fighters jet and attack helicopters have been pounding

Al Shabaab on Friday displayed four bodies of two KDF soldiers and two Somalia National Army Government who died during the fighting in Miido town about 16 kilometres from Afmadhow towards Kismayu.

"All efforts are currently being directed to the attack on Kismayu and we will be there soon. We are keen to capture Kismayu," a senior military source said yesterday.

Seven technical battle wagons and logistic supplies belonging to the group were destroyed while assorted weapons and ammunition were seized in the fighting for control of the town which offers a tactical defence position to the al Qaeda linked terror group.

Operation Linda Nchi spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir in his latest tweet appealed to residents of Kismayu to be on the look out for where the KDF soldiers will be buried.

" To the people of Kismayu, be on the lookout where the remains of our heroes will be buried. That will be the welcome gesture," Chirchir said.

AMISOM Force commander Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti confirmed the fierce exchange during which the two soldiers died. "AMISOM forces, together with TFG soldiers, captured Miido town on 31 August 2012, in an operation that killed 36 Alâ-Qaeda linked Alâ-Shabaab militants.

Miido is situated 16 kilometres south of Afmadow, which was secured by AMISOM troops in July 2012. During the operation, 7 Alâ-Shabaab vehicles and logistic supplies were destroyed while other assorted weapons and ammunition were recovered.

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