* AU troops cautious about entering Kismayu
* Al Shabaab says poised for combat in city and jungle
* Some residents flee port city
By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar
MOGADISHU, Sept 30 Kenyan warships shelled the
southern Somali port of Kismayu overnight after al Qaeda-linked
rebels said they had abandoned the city, residents said on
Stunned by an assault by sea, air and ground forces late on
Friday night, al Shabaab rebels fled the city that had been
their key source of revenue, retreating to surrounding forests
The shells may have been targeting any remaining pockets of
resistance or military installations in the city that was the
rebels' last stronghold.
"The ships were firing deafening shells to the outskirts
last night but several shells landed on houses," said Samira
Ismail, a local mother of four.
Al Shabaab said two children were killed and other people
injured by the shells, a statement rejected as propaganda by
Kenyan military spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna.
Kenyan and Somali troops sent to retake Kismayu from the
rebels were still in the town's outskirts, Oguna said,
proceeding carefully in case al Shabaab's claim that it had
abandoned the city was a ploy to lure them into a trap.
"The troops are consolidating and making plans to expand
into the southern part of the city," Oguna told Reuters.
"A lot of caution must be exercised here. We don't want to
get into a situation where we start to lose troops here and
The southern part is the city centre and whoever wins it
will effectively have control over the port and other strategic
The Kenya Defence Force and the Somalia National Army,
fighting under the flag of the African Union force in Somalia
(AMISOM), have not suffered any casualties in the operation,
An al Shabaab official said that although the group had
ceded control of Kismayu, its fighters were poised to engage the
allied troops once they enter the city.
"We are just waiting for the AU and Somali troops to enter
the town. We shall fight them in streets and alleys. We
abandoned the town. Why don't they go in if they have the guts?"
Sheikh Hudayfa Abdirahman, the group's head of Jubba region,
In Kenya's capital Nairobi, a nine-year-old boy was killed
and three children wounded by a hand grenade thrown into a
Sunday school session in a church on Sunday, an act police said
was the work of al Shabaab sympathisers.
"FIGHT THE ENEMIES IN MUDDY JUNGLES"
Somalia analysts said although al Shabaab had retreated, it
was far from vanquished.
The rebel group, which counts foreign al Qaeda-trained
fighters among its ranks, is seen as one of the biggest threats
to stability in the Horn of Africa. It has received advice from
al Qaeda's leadership, counter-terrorism experts
The insurgents, who once controlled swathes of the lawless
Horn of Africa country, have turned to guerrilla tactics,
harrying the weak government of newly-elected President Hassan
Sheikh Mohamud with suicide bombings and assassinations.
Abdirahman said the onset of rains would help al Shabaab
"We shall fight the enemies in the muddy jungles between
Kismayu and Kenya. Enemies will be stuck in the mud. We are sure
the enemies will never rule peacefully," he said.
Kismayu residents said the chaos was causing hardships.
"Food prices and dollar value have risen a bit this morning.
If the situation remains this way for days, we anticipate
inflation and then starvation," said shopkeeper Abdullahi Nur.
Some civilians fled the city in minibuses on rough roads
that twist through the surrounding jungles.
"I will also evacuate my children if Kismayu does not change
positively," said Ismail, the mother of four.