Kenyan soldiers who crossed into Somalia last month to pursue Al-Shabaab fighters blamed for a series of abductions on the east African nation’s soil on Wednesday killed 12 insurgents near Busar in the south of the nation, military spokesman said.
Kenyan Military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir also denied the insurgents’ claims that three of the Kenyans soldiers were killed in the attacks.
« I can confirm that no Kenyan soldier has been captured by Al- Shabaab, » Chirchir told Xinhua on Thursday by telephone.
He said the dual military operation involving the Kenya Defence Forces and the Transitional Federal Governmental of Somalia soldiers on Wednesday engaged the militia in their camp at Busar area, exchanged fire and 12 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed.
« Be assured that all Kenyan troops are in good spirit and steadfast to mission at hand, » Chirchir said as three East African leaders who met in Nairobi on Wednesday said the fight against Al- Shabaab militants presents a « historic opportunity » to restore peace and stability in Somalia.
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, and Somalia’s Sheikh Sharif Ahmed met in Nairobi Wednesday and expressed confident the Kenyan and Somali military action against the insurgents could end 20 years of lawlessness in Somalia.
The leaders called for regional solidarity to bring to an end the state of lawlessness that has prevailed in Somalia over the last two decades.
The leaders, who met at State House Nairobi, also reviewed the political and security developments in Somalia and observed that the protracted conflict had generated numerous problems including terrorism, organized crime, influx of illegal arms, the refugee crisis and internally displaced persons in Somalia.
Kenya sent troops into neighboring Somalia last month to chase down Al-Shabaab which it blames for a series of cross-border kidnappings.
Ugandan forces make up most of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Somali government troops, backed by AU forces, recently pushed Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu. But the militants still control large parts of southern and central Somalia.
Chirchir said the cross border incursion which has been slowed down by heavy rains and ongoing pacification in liberated areas was about to move to phase two which would also include an exit strategy.
The troops have quickly took towns and centres in the south of the country and they are now camped outside Afmadow, a town 105 km inside Somalia and near Kismayu