Amisom Forces Storm Kismayo Port

2442 Views Kismayo, Somalia

In short
African Union forces in Somalia, Amisom, have taken control of parts of Kismayo, the last major Al-Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia, Kenya's military says.

African Union forces in Somalia, Amisom, have taken control of parts of Kismayo, the last major Al-Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia, Kenya's military says.

The port city has been in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group.

Al-Shabaab spokesmen told news agencies that fierce fighting was now under way.

The Kenyan troops are part of the Amisom force, which is trying to wrest control of the country for the newly elected UN-backed president. Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti are the other countries that make up the 17,000-strong force in the war-torn country. Ethiopia also maintains troops in Somalia, but they are not part of Amisom.

Kenyan military spokesman Cyrus Oguna told BBC that parts of Kismayo had been captured and the rest was expected to fall soon.

Oguna said the joint operation of Kenyan Defence Forces and Somali government troops had begun at 2am on Friday.
Oguna said it was too early cannot give casualty figures as the damage was yet to be assessed.

Al-Shabaab commander in Kismayo, Sheik Mohamed Abu-Fatuma, told a French news agency that the Amisom forces used military boats to deploy hundreds of soldiers in the coast and that the mujahedeen fighters are engaged in heavy fighting with them.

Earlier this week, Kenyan military jets had bombed the airport in Kismayo, destroying an armoury and warehouse used by Islamist militants.

Some 10,000 people had fled Kismayo in the past week, the United Nations refugee agency estimated, as Amisom, government troops and pro-government militia advanced on the city.

Kenya began its intervention in Somalia nearly a year ago after a spate of cross-border attacks blamed on al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabab has been forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, and several other towns over the past year but still controls much of the countryside in south and central Somalia.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control.