Kenya says kills 50 Shabaab fighters in airstrikes

Fri Jan 6, 2012 4:40pm GMT

By Duncan Miriri and Sahra Abdi

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan jets bombed an al Shabaab camp in southern Somalia on Friday killing 50 fighters of the rebel group and injuring 60 others, its military spokesman said.

Emmanuel Chirchir told Reuters the fighters of the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group at the camp situated south of Garbahare had been planning to attack Kenyan and Somali troops in two nearby towns captured by Kenyan forces this week.

"This is one of the biggest losses to the al Shabaab. The concentration of fighters was believed to be preparing to attack our troops in Fafadun and Elade," Chirchir said.

Kenya sent troops into neighbouring Somalia last October after a string of kidnappings and cross-border attacks it blamed on the militants and which threatened Kenya's tourism industry.

The militants pose one of the biggest threats to stability in east Africa, encouraging the African Union, which has peacekeeping forces in the Somali capital Mogadishu, to extend the peacekeeping mandate and to request the United Nations bolster the force's size to close to 18,000.

The Kenyan military said it took over the town of Fafadun in a battle which killed three militants as well as Elade, both of which are in the southwestern Gedo region.

Al Shabaab confirmed the air raid through a senior official who did not wish to be named. It said it had ambushed Kenyan and Somali government troops who were on their way to Elade, killing 10, mainly Somalis.

After initial advances, Kenya's troops, who are fighting alongside Somali government forces, have been largely bogged down due to heavy rains.   Continued...

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