Somalis in fear of Kenya attacks
04 November 2011, 16:15
Mogadishu - Residents of Somalia towns targeted by Kenyan
forces fighting Al Shabaab rebels are caught between two fears - getting hit in an
air raid or risk being accused of spying for Nairobi.
Inhabitants of Baidoa, one of the 10 towns singled out this week by Kenya for
attack, say they spend as little time as possible outdoors, fearing that a
bombardment would unleash dangerous rock shards from the huge boulders that dot
"People who used to go out farming now spend the shortest possible time
outside," said Mohamed Samow, a local resident.
"Everybody is worried now and we hear the sound of aircraft flying over the whole region everyday," he added.
is rocky. This will increase the casualties including civilians if a
bomb is dropped," Samow said. "Some people are contemplating whether to
flee... there is real worry which has never been seen in this town
Kenya deployed troops into the Shabaab-controlled
southern Somalia last month to battle the al-Qaeda-inspired rebels it
blames for kidnapping foreigners on its soil and conducting cross-border
The Islamist militants, who deny the accusations, warned
Kenya Thursday of "cataclysmic consequences" and are watching the
civilian population with suspicion.
Some residents say militants
have been seizing mobile phones of people they suspect of spying for the
Somali government and the Kenyan troops.
men were taken for questioning and their phones confiscated," said
Mohamed Abdullahi Isak, a Baidoa resident. "There are many fighters who
are infiltrating civilians to see if anyone is indicating targets.
Everyone is worried."
"Al-Shabaab fighters are conducting security operations region-wide," Isak added.
Kenyan military also said the Shabaab this week received three
planeloads of weapons in Baidoa, and on Thursday army spokesperson Major
Emmanuel Chirchir said the rebels were using donkeys to transport the
Kenya is seeking to prevent the Shabaab, who control most
of southern Somalia, from launching attacks on its territory and
launched the offensive in mid-October.
Despite voicing security
worries over the years about the extremist militia, Nairobi had held off
from an outright battle against the Shabaab, preferring to offer
military training and diplomatic support for Somalia's weak government.
Chirchir on Tuesday urged residents in 10 southern Somali towns to avoid rebel camps as the army prepared to attack.