Thursday, November 10, 2011

Al-Shabaab Vows to Defend Somalia Against US-backed Kenyan Invasion

Shabaab parade in stronghold


Correspondent in Mogadishu
Wednesday, November 9 2011 at 22:30

Al-Shabaab fighters have paraded in the streets of one of their strongholds on the Somali coast and vowed to repulse the Kenyan incursion.

The show of force in Marka town, 500 kilometres north of Kismayu, involved a display of speed boats mounted with machine guns with which they hope to face the Kenya Navy.

Also on display were the four-wheel pick-ups mounted with machine guns, known as technicals.

Residents of the town said they were asked to come out on the streets and beach to witness the parade.

Marka is about 100 kilometres south of the capital, Mogadishu, from where the rebels have been largely routed by African Union forces.

Kenyan and Somali government troops are approaching Kismayu from the south after taking a string of towns on the coastline.

The Tuesday display came as Kenya’s military incursion inside Somalia was debated in the UK parliament.

Using loud speakers on minibuses, the militants drove around calling on the inhabitants of Marka, the capital of Lower Shabelle region, to come out and watch a big military display.

Along the coastline, speedboats mounted with automatic machine guns, according to witnesses, cut across the water in formation.

Defend territory

An Al-Shabaab officials who addressed the crowd vowed to defend their territory if attacked from the sea, witnesses said.

The militants appeared to be reacting to indications that the Kenya Navy, that already controls the Indian Ocean waters in territory the land forces have taken, was preparing to launch offensives against them in their strongholds including the main port town of Kismayu.

The militiamen zoomed around the streets of Marka in technicals bearing masked fighters wielding assault rifles and escorted by others on motorbikes.

“Our forces are ready to defeat any aggressor,” an Al-Shabaab official whose name was not given was quoted as telling the crowd.

According to some reports, the residents who had gathered to watch the parade fled when a motorcycle rider lost control and ploughed into the crowd killing a young boy and injuring several other people.

Al-Shabaab is under severe pressure from the Kenya military and its Transitional Federal Government allies.

They have already fled from a large swathe of territory they used to control near the Kenyan border like Ras Kamboni, Oddo and Burgabo.

Kenyan troops crossed the border on October 16 after a series of unprovoked attacks by gunmen in Kenya.

Two tourists were killed in Lamu and another two abducted, one of who died in captivity.

The Kenyans’ objective is to degrade Al-Shabaab’s capacity to wage war, drive them out of large areas of southern Somalia and hand them over to government forces.

The capture of Kismayu port whose shipping revenue earns the rebels millions of dollars which they use to buy weapons is key to the Kenyan plan.

But the parade in Marka, hundreds of kilometres from the Kenyans’ war theatre may force them to extend the operation beyond Kismayu.

Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a series of grenade attacks on the residences of Somali government officials and positions of the TFG forces in Mogadishu on Tuesday night.

An attack on the house of a former minister of Justice, Sheikh Abdurahman Farah Janaqow, an MP in South Mogadishu, was reported to have killed two people and wounded others.

Among casualties

The MP was not listed among the casualties.

Other grenade attacks targeted the residence of Mr Ahmed Hassan Addow, alias Ahmed Da’ie, the District Commissioner of Wadajir in Southern Mogadishu.

Another attack occurred at Fagah, an important checkpoint in Karan District in North Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab have resorted to hit and run tactics and suicide bombs since Ugandan and Burundian troops pushed them out of the capital.

Their targets have included not just Amisom troops, but also government officials and civilians in public places such as markets, schools and mosques.

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