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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Somalia : Jets bomb al Shabaab base north of Kismayo port

(Reuters) - Jets bombed a base run by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels north of Somalia's Kismayu port on Saturday but it was not clear if there were any casualties, residents and officials said.
The jets hit the militants' base near the village of Daytubako, 135 km (84 miles) north of Kismayu, the nerve-centre of their operations in the Horn of Africa country.

Residents in Jilib, a town 15 km from the scene, said they could see the jets and hear the deafening thunder of bombs.

"First we saw two jets flying towards Daytubako, and after minutes we heard the thunder of the bombs. The jets bombed, flew past, returned to the same spot and dropped several other bombs," said Kasim Olow, a resident of Jilib town,

Mohamud Farah, the spokesman for Somali government troops in Lower Juba, southern Somalia, told Reuters the jets were likely to be Kenyan, but the east African country's military spokesman could not immediately confirm the attack.

Kenya sent troops into anarchic Somalia in October after raids and kidnappings it blamed on al Shabaab, but the advance has slowed and regional insecurity is no better. Somali rebels killed seven people in an attack inside Kenya last week.

Al Shabaab confirmed the bombardment.

TARGETS

"The jets bombed Daytubako village, but they killed animals and injured four civilians. No Al Shabaab casualties," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab's military operation told Reuters.

"One jet targeted a well from where civilians were watering their animals, it dropped several bombs on this well."

A spokesman for the Western-backed government said there were no civilian casualties and the al Shabaab base was damaged.

"The Kenyan jets bombed an al Shabaab base at Daytubako today. Several bombs successfully hit on (the base). I am sure more rebels are dead but we have no their exact number of casualties," said Mohamud Farah, spokesman for the Somali government troops in Lower Juba, southern Somalia.

"Pastoralists were fetching water from a well near the al Shabaab base. there were no civilian casualties."

Kenyan forces pushed into Somalia after raids that threatened the tourism industry in East Africa's biggest economy and wider regional destablisation.

Neighbouring Ethiopia has also sent troops into Somalia to back its shaky government, which holds the capital Mogadishu with the help of an African Union peacekeeping force.

Somalia has been in turmoil since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Fighting has killed more than 21,000 people since al Shabaab launched its insurgency in 2007.

Al Shabaab rebels, who want to impose a harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law on the Horn of Africa nation, have waged a five-year campaign to drive Somalia's weak government from power.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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