KDF kills more than 30 Al shabaab militants in air strike

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Militants of al Shabaab train with weapons on a street in the outskirts of MogadishuKenyan forces said Friday they had killed at least 30 al-Shabaab rebels including top commanders in an air strike on a training camp in Somalia, although the militants quickly denied the claim.

The Kenyan military said the Thursday evening raid targeted a Shabaab camp in Garbarahey in Gedo region, situated around 600 kilometres (390 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu and near the border with Kenya and Ethiopia.

“KDF (Kenya Defence Force) fighter jets attacked an Al Shabaab camp, where a meeting was being held,” a senior KDF official said.

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“Initial battle damage assessment indicates more than 30 Al Shabaab militants killed, including key commanders,” the official added.

Another military official said the Kenyan armed forces were trying to determine the identities of those killed in the raid.

“We are yet to establish their identities, but they are definitely big shots in the militant group’s hierarchy,” the official said, adding that five vehicles and other “key assets” were destroyed in the raid.

Officials said they believed dozens of other militants were also wounded.

DISMISSED CLAIMS

Contacted by AFP, a Shabaab military spokesman dismissed the Kenyan claims.

“We have no troop presence there. There were no Shabaab fighters in the area, none of our people were killed,” said the spokesman, Abdiaziz Abu Musab.

“The Kenyans are claiming the casualties to please their bosses in the West who have contracted them for the war in Somalia,” he added.

Kenya has been battling the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shabaab on Somali soil since October 2011, and has since joined the African Union force deployed in the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to maintain Kenya’s military presence in the war-torn country despite Shabaab attacks inside Kenya — including the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in September last year.

“Let them (Shabaab) know that we will not relent on the war,” President Kenyatta said late last year.

“Our forces will remain in Somalia until such time when we are satisfied that there is peace.”-standardmedia.co.ke

Militants of al-Shabaab train with weapons on a street in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Kenyan forces said Friday they had killed at least 30 al-Shabaab rebels including top commanders in an air strike on a training camp in Somalia, although the militants quickly denied the claim. Reuters | File

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