Reports: Al-Shabab Strikes Back in Mogadishu District

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 6:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Witnesses in Somalia say al-Shabab militants have recaptured most of an important district of Mogadishu from African Union troops.

Journalists and witnesses tell VOA the al-Qaida-linked group retook the Daynile district Thursday, not long after Somali officials said pro-government forces and AU troops were in control.

Witnesses also say they saw the bodies of at least 30 AU soldiers. Al-Shabab officials claim its fighters killed at least 60 AU troops.

A Somali government statement calls Daynile a “strategic corridor” connecting Mogadishu to Somalia's Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.

Al-Shabab wants to turn Somalia into a strictly Islamic state. It controlled all but a few blocks of the capital just last year. But Somali forces and AU peacekeepers pushed them back. The militants pulled out from most parts of the city in August.

Meanwhile, Kenyan forces continue a campaign against al-Shabab in southern Somalia.

Army spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir says troops have taken control of Ras Kamboni, a town on the Somali coast, and are closing in on Kismayo, an important al-Shabab base.

Kenya blames al-Shabab for kidnapping foreigners in Kenyan territory — an allegation it denies.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said Thursday his country would use “all measures necessary” to ensure Kenyan peace and stability, saying the military operation was meant to protect Kenyan sovereignty.

A U.S. official in Nairobi tells the Associated Press the United States has been pressuring Kenya to do something about al-Shabab. He says Kenya's response to the security situation has been “pathetic.”