Source: Afrique en Ligne/Pana
Somalia’s Al Shabaab fighters have been shooting in the air and enacting battle scenes, which it uses for propaganda purposes, including falsified claims of capture of the Kenyan troops, a military spokesman warned Thursday. Kenyan Defence Forces Spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said the troops were unlikely to be demoralized by the war propaganda coming from the Al Shabaab, which has claimed the capture of the Kenyan soldiers and military equipment.
The military recently shifted strategy from advancing further into the Al Shabaab territories, to pacification patrols, to ease the movement of humanitarian aid.
The troops, while patrolling areas, including Tabda in Southern Somalia, said they heard gun shots in the area of Husingo, South of Tabda, and continued to comb the area, when they discovered the gun shots came from Al Shabaab fighters. “This was not combat engagement between KDF, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Al Shabaab,” said Chirchir. The battle to control Southern Somalia has largely been fought without any direct fighting between the Kenyan troops and the Al Shabaab.
Kenya’s Chief of General Staff, Gen. Julius Karangi, said recently the number of Al Shabaab fighters killed in aerial bombings were in the hundreds.
“Al Shabaab is not a conventional army,” Karangi said.
Kenyan troops have shifted strategy to house-to-house hunt for the Al Shabaab. The enhanced patrols aims to net more weapons in civilian hands in most towns in Southern Somalia, occupied after aerial bombings and ground troop movements. Al Shabaab’s resistance has been minimal, except for once, when a shootout with the Al Shabaab seriously wounded one Kenyan soldier, who later died in hospital.
“It has been observed that as a new propaganda tactic, the Al Shabaab will simulate an attack engagement and then exaggerate it by peddling lies to the media that the KDF and TFG forces were engaged as a result and some of our soldiers have been hurt, killed and their equipment confiscated,” Chirchir warned. This they do in the quest to try and destruct the focus and morale of our forces. We assure the public that the Kenyan Defence Forces are well equipped for this operation, both mentally and physically, and will not be daunted with this inane antics.” The new warning came three days after the Kenyan troops denied reports aired on an Iranian television, alleging that 15 Kenyan troops were killed in Somalia. The same reports claimed 64 Somalis were killed or displaced by the air strikes. The Kenyan Defence Ministry warned the reports were false.