Thursday, September 06, 2012
Residents in a Somali city under the authority of al-Shabaab said the al-Qaida ally was shoring up its positions in the face of a Kenyan naval barrage.
A military spokesman in Kenya confirmed to the BBC that naval forces were shelling militant-controlled Kismayo in an effort to take control of the city. Residents stated that al-Shabaab strengthened its positions and people were fleeing the area.
Al-Shabaab lost control of the Somali port city of Merca this summer during battles with pro-government forces supported by African Union forces.
Somalia has made political progress since adopting a draft constitution and appointing some members of Parliament. The move formally ended a political transition period. A presidential vote is set for Sept. 10, though the central government struggles to extend its influence beyond the Mogadishu.
The Kenyan military has been a key supporter of the African Union effort in Somalia.
Kenyan police said four patrolmen were injured last week in a grenade attack in Mombasa, the site of rioting in the wake of the slaying of a controversial cleric. The cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed, was described by the U.N. Security Council as the ideological leader of a Kenyan group allied with al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia.