Kenya’s military says its air force has bombed a militant training camp inside Somalia. The raid follows September’s deadly attack by al-Shabab fighters on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
The Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) said Thursday its warplanes had bombed a training camp located 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Binswor, Somalia, that is allegedly used by fighters of the al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab. The operation follows a Kenyan drone strike on Monday that killed two leading al-Shabab fighters.
Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna told Reuters news agency Thursday’s assault was in retaliation for the Westgate attack on September 21, which killed at least 67 people.
“This was party of a broader mission by the AMISOM (the UN-backed African peacekeeping mission in Somalia), targeting where the Shabab were training,” he said. “Those attackers at the Westgate did their training there.”
“We have been monitoring this particular area over a period of time, and we moved in when we got the green light,” Oguna added.
According to a KDF statement, more than 300 militants were in the camp, though it was unclear how many were killed or injured in the attack. Oguna said the military would not have casualty figures until an assessment on Friday, but added that four military trucks were destroyed and said “many more” such attacks would be carried out.
Al-Shabab denied that one of its installations had been targeted, with a senior spokesman telling Reuters: “no military camp of ours in Somalia was air struck or attacked.”
The militant group has said their four-day siege of the Nairobi mall in September was in retaliation for Kenya’s 2011 military push into Somalia.
Kenya sent troops into the country two years ago in pursuit of rebels and to create a buffer zone between its borders and al Shabab territory.
dr/ipj (Reuters, AP)