Troops from the Africa Union Mission in Somalia have deployed in Elma'an port about 40km North East of Mogadishu.
By Henry Mukasa
Troops from the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have deployed in Elma'an port about 40km North East of Mogadishu as the force continues to secure more territory from Al Qaeda-affiliated extremists Al shabaab.
The AMISOM peacekeepers deployed in the Horn of Africa country to restore stability first launched their assault on Elma'an port in June. The troops led by UPDF secured the port on Tuesday and subsequently deployed to build defenses.
According to a statement issued by the AMISOM information office in Nairobi, the port had previously been used, by the militants fighting the Somali government, for import of illegal arms and to shuttle foreign fighters from the Gulf of Eden.
AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti said that the operation is aimed at improvement of security in the port town. It's an important source of goods for many of Somalia's coastal communities.
"This deployment will bring peace to the people of Elma'an as they work to rebuild their lives," Gutti commented.
Meanwhile Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reported on Tuesday that seven Al-Shabaab fighters, including a senior commander, were killed in an AMISOM raid. The missile strikes on Kismayu by Kenya Navy vessels, came as African Union forces stepped up efforts to capture Kismayu, the militants' only remaining base in southern Somalia.
Reports identified the commander who was killed as Abdikadir Duecsane. Military sources told the Nation that he was among Al-Shabaab fighters fleeing Kismayu to neighbouring towns. The missile strikes also hit Jilip another town near Kismayu.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna confirmed the attacks against Al- Shabaab bases. "The attacks that took place as from 10.30 to 11.30 in the morning targeted a strategic militant base and killed seven people," he said.
Col. Oguna said that it was still not very clear whether Duecsane was among those killed, but independent reports from Somalia confirmed that the Al-Shabaab commander had been killed. During the attack, military equipment belonging to the militants, including missile launchers, technicals (vehicles mounted with machine guns), guns and ammunition, were destroyed, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, AMISOM continues to amass troops near Kismayu for the final onslaught planned to expel Al-Shabaab from their remaining stronghold. The Kenyan contingent of AMISOM, supported by attack helicopters and naval ships, have reached Harbole, a town near Kismayu. The troops are said to be waiting for approval from commanders before pushing into Kismayu.
The allied forces have since Friday attacked Al-Shabaab strongholds near the city forcing the militants to flee to other areas.
Somalia: AMISOM troops deploy in captured port