Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s army said it pushed al- Shabaab from two areas in southern Somalia that the group was using to transport contraband and improvised explosive devices into the East African nation.
Islamic militants linked to al-Qaeda lost control of the town of Hosingo, through which electronics and sugar were being smuggled, on Feb. 1 and Badhadhe the following day, Colonel Cyrus Oguna, a spokesman for the Kenya Defence Forces, told reporters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, today.
Yesterday, Kenyan helicopter gunships thwarted a planned retaliatory attack by al-Shabaab fighters near Badhadhe, destroying 18 of their vehicles, Oguna said. He declined to estimate the number of people killed in the attack.
“We see al-Shabaab ceding more ground as we move forward,” Oguna said. “Al-Shabaab is completely weakened.”
The group vowed to strike back at Kenya after it deployed troops in mid-October in southern Somalia to secure its borders. Kenya blames al-Shabaab for wave of attacks on foreigners on its soil, a charge the group has denied.
Information about the fighting cannot be independently verified and the two sides’ version of events generally differ. The Horn of African nation also hosts more than 10,000 African Union troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti working alongside government troops and Ethiopian soldiers who separately entered Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabaab in December.
Al-Shabaab has been battling Somalia’s western-backed government led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed for five years and controls most of the southern and central regions.
Somalia has had no effective central government since the downfall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre two decades ago.
--Editors: Emily Bowers, Sara Marley
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