(Adds al Shabaab denial of anyone killed in air raids)
MOGADISHU, June 23 Kenyan fighter jets have
attacked two bases belonging to Islamist al Shabaab insurgents
in Somalia and killed at least 80 militants, African Union
peacekeepers there said on Monday.
Al Shabaab rebels denied any of its fighters had been
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), whose
soldiers launched a new offensive against al Shabaab this year,
said Kenyan planes carried out the raids on Anole and Kuday in
the southern Lower Jubba region. It did not say when they took
"The air strikes in Anole left more than 30 al Shabaab
fighters dead, three technical vehicles and one Land Cruiser
loaded with ammunition destroyed," AMISOM said. More than 50
rebels were killed in the Kuday raid, it added.
Responding to the AMISOM statement, al Shabaab's spokesman
for military operations Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters
the group did not have any bases in the area of the raids, which
it said took place on Thursday.
"Only pastoralists were around there and luckily no goat was
injured, let alone a civilian," he said.
Kenya first sent its troops into neighbouring Somalia in
2011 after several attacks inside its territory that it blamed
on al Shabaab, and later joined the peacekeeping force.
The militants have since carried out a string of assaults to
punish Kenya for its intervention. Al Shabaab fighters killed at
least 67 people in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall last year.
AMISOM said al Shabaab had lost control of more than 10
major towns in the new push by African troops, including
soldiers from Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Burundi and Sierra
"AMISOM continues to up the pressure on al Shabaab with a
view to liberating more areas in forthcoming operations," the
Officials and diplomats have said towns cleared of Al
Shabaab are in a dire state, with food stocks emptied and
largely abandoned by their inhabitants, creating what one envoy
described as "ghost towns".
They say al Shabaab still controls tracts of countryside,
making it difficult for supplies to be moved to the towns.
Somalia's government is struggling to impose order since the
AU peacekeepers, backed by Somali troops, drove al Shabaab out
of the capital Mogadishu in 2011.
More than two decades of conflict have left Somalia in
ruins, while al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has continued
guerrilla-style attacks and suicide bombings.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for last week's attack on
the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni that killed about 65
people, although Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed al
Shabaab's account and said local politicians were behind it.
In a separate incident, an al Shabaab spokesman said the
group had attacked Kenyan troops near the border with Kenya on
Monday morning and had burned four trucks, killing those inside.
Kenya's defence forces denied there was any such fight.
(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Writing by
George Obulutsa; Editing by Edmund Blair and Andrew Heavens)