Warplanes strike Somali militant bases
24 November 2011, 09:33
Mogadishu - Unidentified fighter jets bombed three Islamist
militant bases in Somalia on Wednesday, residents and soldiers said, as
neighbouring Kenya continued its assault on the rebels.
troops entered Somalia six weeks ago vowing to wipe out the al-Shabaab
group, who it accuses of being behind a wave of kidnappings and attacks
on tourists in Kenya.
Its air force has launched a series of strikes on what it says are rebel targets.
"Jets bombed three al-Shabaab bases around the town of Badade today,"
local elder, Hilowle Ali, told Reuters. "We were all shocked and ran
away. The town is now deserted."
A Somalia government soldier
confirmed the raids and said there had also been strikes on Monday. He
did not confirm that they were carried out by the Kenyan air force.
"The jets bombed near the places where they bombed on Monday. It
targeted al-Shabaab but we do not know the number of casualties," Yunis
Macalim Amiin told Reuters.
Al-Shabaab also said the raids had
been carried out on Wednesday, and that seven bombs were dropped, but
that it had suffered no casualties because its fighters had left the
Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa's major military power, also
sent dozens of military trucks and armoured vehicles into central
Somalia over the weekend, witnesses said.
It publicly denies
its forces are inside its neighbour and has said a decision on whether
to join the assault against al-Shabaab in some form would be taken on
Friday at a meeting of east African heads of state.
Though Kenya's advance on the militants started rapidly, it stalled
quickly with its military blaming mud and heavy rains. al-Shabaab say
daily hit-and-run raids and ambushes from its fighters are hampering the
The Kenyan police said on Wednesday that the rebels
had ambushed one of its patrols in Liboi near the border with Somalia
and close to the Dadaab refugee camp.
"Our officers were
attacked by bandits. I suspect and believe they are al-Shabaab
militants. Fortunately no officer lost his life," Leo Nyongesa, the
police commander of Kenya's North Eastern Province, told Reuters.
Other officers in the area said two police officers were hurt in the
attack and that another, who was critically injured, was airlifted to
the capital Nairobi.
"Al-Shabaab guys were firing from both
sides of the road," one officer said. "But my colleagues managed to get
out of the car, lie down on the ground and repel them."
military officer said the militants had also started to poison water
pools that Kenyan and Somali soldiers used for drinking water.
"Twenty of our soldiers are now very sick, 9 of them are serious," Abdikarim Ali Yusuf told Reuters.
An African Union peacekeeping force is largely responsible for keeping
Somalia's weak transitional government from falling to al-Shabaab. The
Horn of Africa nation has not had a fully-functioning government since
warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Said Barre in 1991.