JUST HOW MANY active Al-shabaab operatives are remaining in Somalia? Or just how many are left in the world? Reports from the front line indicate that the ragtag army of social misfits may have been obliterated in the last one week.
The operation led by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) under AMISOM, targeted Al Shabaab training camps and its senior commanders in the tri-border area between Middle Juba, Lower Shabelle and Bay region.
Two senior commanders were killed by a KDF drone at jillib on Sunday, October 26th, the day the operations were launched. A few days later, the Kenya Air force bombarded hurguun training camp in Dinsoor region. The camp is said to host 400 people 300 of who are trainees. An estimated 300 people were killed. Intelligence reports indicate that the dead were buried in mass graves on Friday, November 1st, a day after the attack. The same day, October jillib was again attacked by ground troops using heavy artillery. The size of loss from this assault is not clear.
On November 2nd, the Somali National army killed more than 30 Al shabbaab insurgents at a logistical base in Kolbio, close to the Kenyan border. On the same date, the Kenya Navy sank a vessel carrying 15 al-shabaab fleeing Dinsoor.
From the intelligence reports, we can estimate that, at the lower side, some 347 Al-shabaab including recruits, trainers and their commanders were wiped out last week. And this is only in the reported incidents. Some incidents such as mop up operations are never reported. Whatever the case, Al-shabaab is nearly 400 people or more poorer. The ragtag army has effectively been neutralized.
The AMISOM operation appears to have been designed to not only neutralize Al-shabaab but also to deter future recruits. The fact that they could be neutralized right in their bases is a strong deterrent to any would-be recruits. They know know contrary to Al-shabaab propaganda, they Local armed forces and specifically KDF, have the capacity to hit Al-Shabaab anywhere in East Africa. They also know that an Airforce is a lethal force that strike with devastating accuracy. The operation also announced the entry into Kenya’s air force assets, of the lethal drones.
Kenya deployed more than 4,000 troops to Somalia in 2011, blaming the Islamists for a series of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist at a Kenyan beach resort. Those forces joined African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi as well as a military deployment from Ethiopia in pushing Al-Shabaab out of Somalia’s major population centers including Mogadishu, the capital. The Islamists threatened retaliation against Kenya and other countries with troops in Somalia, bombing a bar in Uganda in 2010 and claiming responsibility for the Westgate attack.
The next target, it seems are the sleeping cells in Kenya, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa. These cells are suspected to be behind the killing of two Pastors in the coastal regions over the past three weeks. But given that there will be no training camps or trainers in Somalia, intelligence sources say, many are likely to be demoralized and abandon the trade.