Kenya claims `many dead` as jets strike al-Shabaab camp
Kenyan warplanes have destroyed an al-Shabaab rebel camp in southern Somalia used to train gunmen who attacked Nairobi`s Westgate shopping mall in September, Kenya`s Defence Ministry said.
Nairobi: Kenyan warplanes have destroyed an al-Shabaab rebel camp in southern Somalia used to train gunmen who attacked Nairobi`s Westgate shopping mall in September, Kenya`s Defence Ministry said.
Many rebels were killed in the "major aerial offensive" conducted yesterday, said a ministry statement issued later the same day.
The airstrike "completely destroyed an al-Shabaab training camp”, located in the Dinsoor region some 300 kilometres (190 miles) west of Somalia`s capital Mogadishu, the statement said.
"Initial reports from the ground confirmed that that four technical vehicles and a weapons store were destroyed."
"At the time of the airstrike, the camp had over 300 recruits, many of whom are believed to have perished, with many others suffering injuries," it added.
"The training camp has been used by al-Shabaab to train operatives some of whom are eventually infiltrated into the country. The Westgate attackers received their training from this camp," the ministry said in the statement issued late yesterday.
There was no immediate reaction from al-Shabaab, a hardline Islamist and al Qaeda-linked rebel group which still controls large parts of southern Somalia.
Kenya promised that "operations of this nature will be sustained into the future" as part of efforts by AMISOM, a 17,700-strong UN-mandated African Union force supporting Somalia`s internationally-backed government.
The strike comes amid increased military operations against the al-Shabaab.
On Monday, the US military carried out a drone strike which officials said killed a top al-Shabaab suicide bomb-maker. In early October US Navy SEALS struck the al-Shabaab-held southern port of Barawe, but failed to kill or capture the top militant being targeted.
AMISOM has requested its size to be boosted to 23,000 troops, with the force now expected to try to push south from Mogadishu and link up with Kenyan troops, denying al-Shabaab access to the sea.
Al-Shabaab said it carried out the attack on the Westgate mall, which left at least 67 dead, in retaliation for Kenya`s military intervention in Somalia.