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Kenyan, Ugandan troops battle al-Shabaab
by Staff Writers
Kampala, Uganda (UPI) Aug 20, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The African Union Mission in Somalia's battle against Somali al-Shabaab militants continues.

Uganda is contributing 6,500 soldiers to AMISOM, followed by Kenya, with 5,000 troops.

On Aug. 12, three of four Ugandan Mi-24 combat gunship helicoptersflying to the AMISOM in Somalia crashed on Mount Kenya.

Nevertheless, Uganda is willing to send another set of combat helicopters to fight al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, Radio RBC Uganda reported.

Highlighting the regional threat, three suspected al-Shaabab members were killed in Kenya's Lamu East district last Wednesday.

The Somali insurgents were members of a group of seven heavily armed al-Shaabab militants who infiltrated into Kenya across the Somali border.

Coast Police Constable Samuel Kilele said three Russian-made AK-47 assault rifles and 60 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the suspects' bodies. He also said Kenyan security forces were able to track the infiltrators.

"We gunned them down and recovered the arms," Kilele said. "It is a commendable job."

Kilele added that four of the militants escaped after being wounded and that police were searching the area to arrest them. Kenyan authorities said the men were planning to carry out major attacks in Kenya and that their elimination is a major breakthrough in the war on terror.

Kilele said a joint security team of elements from the Kenya Defense Forces, Kenya's General Service Unit and police forces has been established to counter the al-Shabaab threat on the Kenyan-Somali border, particularly in Lamu.

"We are appealing to locals with any information to share the same with the security apparatus," he said.

Kenyan forces are also operating inside Somali proper. Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia in October to begin hunt down al-Shabaab militants, who are blamed for a series of security incidents in Kenya's northeastern and coastal provinces.

On Thursday a Kenyan military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "There was an attack in Somalia at a place called Fafadun. Seventy-three al-Shabaab (militants) were killed and there are two KDF casualties."

Three other Kenyan soldiers were wounded.

Another source with knowledge of the operation stated, "It was a very violent confrontation because the al-Shabaab militants were heavily armed and ready for war. Forty AK-47 rifles were seized from the slain militants."

AMISOM forces are reportedly preparing for a major imminent assault on Kismayu, a major al-Shabaab stronghold. The assault on Kismayu to drive al-Shabaab militants from the port is intended not only to weaken them militarily but economically as well, as Kismayu port serves as al-Shabaab's main source of revenue.

The projected military operation has humanitarian organizations operating in Somalia concerned.

Fighting for control of the town appears imminent. I am deeply concerned by recent reports of civilian casualties in Kismayu caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes," U.N. humanitarian aid official Mark Bowden stated.

"I reiterate my call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need."

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