By Andrew Ross
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - The Kenyan military announced Wednesday that it had killed 21 al-Shabaab militants who had ambushed their convoy, which was headed for the town of Tabda, located in the southern Lower Juba region in Somalia.
In a statement, Col. David Obonyo said that the Kenya Defense Forces soldiers had engaged the militants on Tuesday and managed to kill 21 al-Shabaab terrorists in the Hawina area in Somalia.
Obonyo said that among those killed was a junior level commander, Salad Bart, who is believed to have been in charge of the group of militants participating in the ambush.
“The troops recovered 17 AK-47 rifles, two grenade launchers, five rocket propelled grenades and assorted ammunition in Hawina, the firefight resulted in the killing of 21 terrorists with no casualties on Kenya Defence Forces,” Obonyo said.
As of Wednesday morning, it was not possible to verify the Kenyan military claims though late Tuesday, Somalis living near the area had posted on social media sites that they could hear heavy gunfire coming from the direction where Kenya Defense Forces soldiers had just headed.
“Heavy fighting between AlShabaab fighters and Kenya troops now ongoing near Dhobley town in Lower Jubba region, Somalia, KDF convoy transporting military supplies from Dhobley to Taabto ambushed by AlShabaab fighters. Fierce fighting still ongoing. Somalia,” one user posted on his Twitter account.
Kenyan forces have been operating in Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) since February 2012 to help in liberating villages and towns under the control of Somali based al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab militant group.