Fighting for the control of Somalis coastal port town of Kismayo is raging as Kenyan forces from the African Union and Somali government forces plan on capturing the strategic town from the Al-Shabaab fighters.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
by Abdulaziz Billow Ali
Both the United Nations and Human rights are urging armed forces to try to minimize civilian casualties.
Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 but have come under sharp criticism over killings of innocent civilians in South Somalia.
“Kenyan Defense Forces employ both navy and aerial powers in targeting Al-Shabaab bases that has sometimes resulted in massive civilian casualties”.
Kenyan military spokesman however argues that Kenya troops are not entirely banned from using maritime forces as long as it's in line with its national interests. In one instance however Kenyan air strikes in Jilib town, south Somalia claimed the lives of at least 7 people, including 5 children of Abdullahi Maalim, a former government official.
On Monday, a Kenyan army official confirmed that an attack was launched on a group of civilians in Janay Abdalla, near Kismayo city, killing six of them and seriously wounding two others. An incident the Kenyan forces now say is under investigation.
However, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR puts the figure of people fleeing the clashes at more than 10,000 adding that 7,500 people fled the area in a span of four days amid growing tension with poorer households undertake the journey in lorries and trucks, in some cases using donkey carts.
As of Tuesday evening local media were reporting of fresh air strikes in the Kismayo airport. Kismayo serves as the last Al-Shabaab stronghold and commercial hub after the group lost its key bases in Mogadishu and south central Somalia to AMISOM and Somali government troops. Kenyan forces were “re-hatted” and joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on June 2, 2012, following the signing of an agreement with the African Union.