At least 10 Somalis have been killed in an attack by Kenyan combat aircraft on a town in southern Somalia. The raid was targeted at al-Shabab fighters, though aid agencies say some of those killed were in a camp for civilians displaced by the conflict.
The MSF agency and eye-witnesses say that at least three civilians were killed and over 50 wounded. Kenyan bloggers following the military action report that the civilian death toll could be much higher.
The Kenyan military says this was an attack on a military target and claim 10 al-Shabab fighters were killed. A Kenyan military spokesman told the BBC the planes had targeted the outskirts of the town of Jilib. “We received intelligence that a top al-Shabab leader was to visit a camp in Jilib so we conducted an air raid,” Kenya army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said. He added that 10 fighters were killed and 47 wounded.
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said at least three people were killed in the air raid, which hit a camp for displaced people. MSF says the camp houses 9,000 internally-displaced people. Gautam Chatterjee, who heads MSF-Netherlands’ Somalia mission,told AFP that, “Our staff said that around 52 people, all civilians, mostly women and children, had been wounded and that three were dead”.
On the wider military front, the Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said it was only a matter of time before Kenyan troops engaged Al-Shabab in the much-awaited battle to capture Afmadow. This has been a target since the incursion began. But rain and mud have held up the Kenyan advance. But Chrchir expressed the hope that a break in the rains would now enable movement, adding, ” One of our commanders is prepared to move the troops forward in the battle for Afmadow”.
Kenyan forces say they have captured the towns of Busar and Burgavo in sothern Somalia.
On the political front, despite denials from Somalia’s transitional government about cooperation with kenyan forces, Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali flew to Nairobi on Monday for talks with government officials over the security operations against Al-Shabab.