Kenya Defence Forces working under the African Union Mission in Somalia together with Somali federal troops briefly captured an Al-Shabaab held village near the Kenyan border on Tuesday.
Coalition spokespersons described the raid as a success but Somali media pointed out that Al-Shabaab fighters quickly retook the town later in the day, apparently without a fight.
Lt-Col Paul Njuguna, a Kenyan army spokesman, released a statement saying that their forces operating under AMISOM captured Badhaadhe town near the Kenyan border on Tuesday at dawn.
Some non-AMISOM forces were also seen in the action – some reports suggested American troops – pointing to the likelihood that the attack was a planned raid. But Njuguna made the attack sound almost spontaneous, saying that the Kenyans were on “routine pacification operations in the general area of Badhaadhe” when they launched their attack.
He said they drove away Al-Shabaab from “a mosque and police station in the area.” The Kenyans killed seven men whom they identified as Al-Shabaab fighters.
Besides rifles and ammunition, the Kenyan troops captured “Al Shabaab flags, magazines, IED cables, machetes and two 81mm bombs,” according to the army spokesman. IED cables are used for making bombs – ‘improvised explosive devises’ – often used in car bombs or suicide bombs.
AMISOM likewise confirmed that the Kenyan troops under its command, together with Somali National Army troops, had gone out from Raskamboni town, located on the coast, and recovered Badhaadhe town near Kenya-Somali border.
“Badhaadhe town has been a gateway for Al-Shabaab coming from Berhani and Bulla Haji towns along the lower Jubba region,” the AU mission pointed out.
However, a number of Somali media sources, citing residents, reported that the AMISOM and allied forces later on Tuesday withdrew from the town heading for the Kenya border. Al-Shabaab forces hoisted a black banner over the government buildings in the village after their departure.
It remains to be seen whether offensive raids of this kind will seriously hinder Al-Shabaab from continuing to use the Badhaadhe area as a ‘gateway’ from its territories in the lower Jubba region, or have little impact.
Badhaadhe was one of the areas lost to Kenyan control last year after a military defeat at El Adde, which caused the Kenyan army to retreat from the area.