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Thursday 28 August  

Air raids heard in southern Somalia

Published on 16 September 2011 - 1:09pm
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The sound of aircraft and heavy explosions was heard around Somalia's Islamist controlled Kismayo region in the south of the conflict-torn country, residents said on Friday.

The blasts late Thursday in a jungle near the port town of Kismayo followed several overflights by suspected military planes.

"We heard planes flying over Kismayo and minutes later there were at least three explosions," local resident Mohamed Ali told AFP by phone.

"I think the planes fired missiles because there were also sounds of anti-aircraft weapons fired by the Shebab fighters," Ali added, referring to the Al-Qaeda linked rebels that control huge swathes of southern Somalia.

Abdikarim Samow, another resident, said he heard explosions and saw terrified residents.

"The aircraft fired heavy missiles into a jungle area where the Shebab established training camps, but we don't know more," Samow said.

Other residents confirmed the explosions, but it was unclear who was behind them.

In June, residents and Islamist rebels reported similar explosions around Kismayo.

The United States has in the past conducted several raids on southern Somalia, targeting senior regional Al-Qaeda figures.

In January 2007 a US air raid left dozens of people dead in Ras Kamboni in the far south of the country. One of the presumed targets was Al-Qaeda's chief in east Africa Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, who survived the raid but was gunned down at a roadblock in Mogadishu in June this year.

The Shebab recently pulled out of the capital Mogadishu.

On Thursday, Somalia officials and residents said Kenyan helicopter gunships fired missiles around Elwak region near the Kenyan border.

"Kenyan forces carried out aerial bombardment on several locations near the border where terrorist militants are likely to be hiding, but we don't have details about the incident," Somali government official Salad Mohamed said.

The Kenyan army was not reachable for comment.

But a Shebab commander told AFP that their fighters were not in the area targeted by the Kenyan forces.

"The mujahideen fighters were not there when the Kenyan aircrafts fired missiles."

© ANP/AFP
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