Three al-Shabaab feared dead

Thursday November 17 2011

By PETER LEFTIE & LUCAS BARASA

Three top al-Shabaab commanders are feared dead following Sunday’s air strikes on the militants’ bases in Somalia. The top commanders were holding a meeting when allied forces bombed an al-Shabaab base.

The three are the militants’ spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Ahmad Gobane Abu Zubayr and Mr ‘Amerika. “There were air strikes in Afgoye and Kilometre 50, controlled by the al-Shabaab. The area of concentration was Afgoye where three al-Shabaab commanders were holding a meeting. We are informed that they hit their targets,” said Amisom Deputy Representative Wafula Wamunyinyi.

Unconfirmed reports
Mr Wamunyinyi could not, however, confirm whether the three commanders were killed or injured during the strikes, saying information from the ground was still scanty. He could also not confirm whether the air strikes were carried out by the Kenyan forces or the African Union troops.

“All we know is that the allied forces hit their targets, some militants were killed and others were injured but it is difficult to tell because the militants who control the town have blocked anybody from reaching the scene,” Mr Wamunyinyi said.

Amisom Military Spokesman Paddy Ankunda could not confirm or deny the reports that the three commanders were killed, saying they were still investigating. “We are trying to verify that information. It is true the attacks were carried out but we are trying to investigate the origin of the strikes and the reported deaths,” he said. In Nairobi, President Kibaki welcomed the support Kenya was receiving from regional governments in its drive to wipe out the al-Shabaab.

Regional support
The President said a stable and peaceful Somalia will create an environment conducive for development in the region. He was officially opening a regional infrastructure conference in Nairobi.
“I welcome the support Kenya has obtained from both its citizens and regional governments as we embark on the operation to deal with militants based in Somalia who have sought to destabilise our economies.”

EAC member states Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are among those that have backed the Kenya armed forces and soldiers of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to weed out the militia group.

Kenya also has support from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development members with Djibouti offering troops to hold areas taken over from al-Shabaab. Kenya also has backing from the European Union, the US, Japan, South Africa and Egypt, among others.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also announced that his country would hold a major conference next year to discuss the instability posed by the al-Shabaab in the region. He called Somalia a “failed state” that directly threatens British interests, and where tourists and aid workers are kidnapped while Somalis suffer from famine.

Monitor Correstondents