Somalia: Kenya Advances To The Coast

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February 6, 2012: The famine in Somalia is officially over as a large harvest matures and food is plentiful. But only for a few months and over a million people are still in refugee camps inside Somalia as well as Ethiopia and Kenya. These people need foreign food aid to survive, as do many more who live harvest-to-harvest. In the last eight months, over 100,000 famine refugees had fled to Kenya and Ethiopia. Many refuse to return to Somalia because of the continued fighting between al Shabaab and various opponents. These include Somali troops and militias as well as AU (African Union) peacekeepers and Ethiopian soldiers.

February 5, 2012: Al Shabaab attacked the town of Beledweyn in central Somalia. The key town was captured by Ethiopian troops two months ago, and this night assault was expected. The al Shabaab forces were repulsed.

Kenyan jets attacked several ground targets near the coastal town of Badhadhe. At least ten al Shabaab members were killed.

February 4, 2012:  Kenya publicized its amnesty program for Kenyan Somalis who have joined al Shabaab. Recent victories by Kenyan troops over al Shabaab made Kenyan Somalis more likely to accept amnesty, as happened during similar situations in the past.

February 3, 2012: In Mogadishu, a small American UAV, apparently a 2 kg (4.4 pound) Raven, crashed into a hut in a refugee camp. A similar incident took place last year in Mogadishu. Four Ravens were supplied to the AU peacekeepers and these UAVs operate up to ten kilometers from the operator. The U.S. operates larger UAVs from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti and in Ethiopia. Camp Lemonnier has existed since 2003 and currently holds 3,500 personnel. The base has a lease that lasts until 2020.

February 2, 2012: Kenyan troops captured the port town of Badhadhe, which is near the Kenyan border and 180 kilometers south of the al Shabaab held port of Kismayo. During the operation, Kenyan helicopter gunships attacked a large group of al Shabaab (over 200 men and at least 20 vehicles). Kenya claimed to have killed a hundred al Shabaab and destroyed at least ten vehicles.

January 31, 2012: In the central Somali town of Galkayo, an al Shabaab suicide bomber failed in his attempt to kill a pro-government militia leader. The bomb went off, killing two security guards.

Al Shabaab declared the Red Crescent, along with the Red Cross, were now banned from al Shabaab controlled territory. This puts several million Somalis at risk of starvation. Al Shabaab accused the aid agencies of bringing in food that was past its use-by date and that the free food aid was lowering prices in markets thus hurting local farmers.

 

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