Kenyan troops fighting Al-Shabaab inside Somalia have placed 10 towns under surveillance after the militants apparently brought in a consignment of arms for retaliatory attacks.
The Kenya Defence Forces said two aircraft carrying the arms landed in the Al-Shabaab controlled town of Baidoa on Tuesday with the ultimate aim of launching attacks against Kenyan troops.
The military advised residents of the 10 towns — Baidoa, Baadheere, Baydhabo, Dinsur, Afgooye, Bwale, Barawe, Jilib, Kismayu and Afamadow — to avoid any contact with the militants so that they are not endangered in case of attacks.
“On November 1, 2011, we reliably confirmed that two aircraft landed in Baidoa with arms consignment intended for Al-Shabaab,” military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said in a statement. (READ: Clearing the air over military push prudent)
“In line with the Kenya Defence Forces strategy of diminishing Al-Shabaab’s effectiveness and weapon use, the aforementioned towns will remain under imminent attack. Residents in the towns are advised to avoid contact with Al-Shabaab militia,” he stated.
The military also warned the local community against being used as conduits to transport the weapons. (SEE IN PICTURES: Kenya at war in Somalia)
“The people of Somalia especially those living in the areas of Baidoa, Baadheere, Baydhabo, Dinsur, Afgooye, Bwale, Barawe, Jilib, Kismayu and Afamadow have been advised to avoid Al-Shabaab camps or being used as conduits for the weapons,” the statement warned.
Maj Chirchir, however, declined to state the source of the weapons, saying, it would compromise the military operation.
Ground forces advance
On Tuesday, Kenyan ground forces advanced towards the Burgavo channel on their march to the militant’s stronghold of Kismayu, with the Kenya Navy providing logistics and the Kenya Air Force aerial surveillance.
Sources in Somalia told the Nation that the forces had injured eight Al-Shabaab militants near the town of Bilis Qooqani. The troops were coming from Tabda to join their comrades near Afmadow when they bumped into the militants.
It is understood the troops have created a buffer zone at a dangerous corridor four kilometres from Tabda. The militants have been using the corridor to ambush Kenyans. (READ: Somali rebels claim attack on Kenyan forces)
The troops are preparing to capture the port of Kismayu, which is used by the militants to generate revenue to fund their terror activities. The march to the port has been slowed down by poor weather.
Most parts of Somalia have no roads, making motorised transport difficult. Army engineers are building bridges as troops tighten their grip on areas already taken.
Meanwhile, police were on high alert on Tuesday after suspected Al-Shabaab militiamen attacked Amuma Police Post in Garissa County on Monday night.
Warned of attacks
The Rural Border Patrol Unit is within Lagdera Division and has 15 officers. Sources told the Nation that the militia group had warned earlier of the attacks.
The attackers are said to have used a rocket propelled anti-tank weapon to blow up the tents used by officers. However, none of the officers was injured as they were out on patrol.
Officers who talked to Nation on condition of anonymity claimed they were expecting the attack given the location of the post.
But Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe and the North Eastern Police boss Leo Nyongesa dismissed the claims.
Reported by Peter Leftie, Angira Zadock, and Galgalo Bocha