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Four al-Shabab militants killed in botched attack at Boni forest

LAMU (Xinhua) -- Four al-Shabab militants were killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) they were setting up apparently detonated prematurely in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region early Thursday, the police confirmed.

A number of militants were also injured in the 3 a.m. incident near a bridge in Lamu East, said Lamu security operation director Joseph Kanyiri.

"I can confirm that four of the militants died from an IED explosion," he said. "It seems the device went off before they were done setting it up, killing three militants on the spot while another died a few minutes later.

"Three badly charred bodies were recovered on the scene while another was picked up a few meters away. It seems he was trying to get away but succumbed to injuries," Kanyiri added.

The area falls within the infamous Boni forest where a security operation, dubbed Linda Boni, has been underway since 2015 to flush out militants there.

The militants have been using the forest to stage attacks on local civilians and security personnel.

Kanyiri said three loaded AK-47 magazines, 12 loose rounds of ammunition and a magazine pouch were also recovered at the scene.

The tourism resort region of the coast has been a target of terror attacks in the past, often staged by al-Shabab terrorists who waged a war against Kenya soon after it deployed its military to war-ravaged Somalia in October 2011.

Kenyan police believe al-Shabab remains a major threat in the border areas, noting that the terror group’s targets include security personnel and establishments along the border as well as commuter vehicles plying routes along the border and coastal regions.


Uganda says reduction in AMISOM troops may undermine gains

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan military on Tuesday said reduction in the number of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops is likely to undermine gains without alternative measures taken.

Ugandan military spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire told Xinhua by telephone that reduction in the number of UN-led peacekeeping troops should be followed by provision of force enablers like attack and utility helicopters to fill in the gap left.

"The reduction must always be based on the cold concrete conditions on the ground. Certainly the situation still requires a sizable number of AMISOM troops in the absence of the requisite force multipliers and limited but growing capacity of the Somalia National Army," Karemire said.

Uganda is one of the troop contributing countries to AMISOM which is fighting Somali militant group Al-Shabab.

The UN Security Council on May 31 passed a resolution in which it authorized a 1,000 troop reduction of the AMISOM force to 19,626 peacekeepers.

The decision was taken in line with the Transition Plan agreed in 2017, whereby AMISOM will gradually hand over security to Somali forces.

Karemire said the troop contributing countries will now convene and decide how many troops each country will send home.

United States will
intensify security

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United States on Tuesday vowed to intensify its security operations against al-Shabab to help stabilize Somalia.

A joint statement was issued following a meeting between top Somali government officials, visiting Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto in Mogadishu.




Somalia forces vacate military bases in salary row

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- Somalia government forces vacated three military bases to protest non-payment of salaries, a move that may jeopardize years of security gains, officials and local residents said.

Security officials who declined to be named said the Somalia National Army (SNA) soldiers vacated three bases in middle Shebelle, stoking fear among the residents that the al-Qaida allied terrorist group, al-Shabab may take over the abandoned bases.

"We are on our way to Mogadishu. The security forces have not been paid for several months," a security officer who requested anonymity said, adding that the withdrawal was to protest the non-payment of salaries.

However, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire refuted the allegations, saying the SNA soldiers are paid regularly and on time.

Khaire said the soldiers who have not received their salaries refused to register themselves under the biometric system which was put in place to weed out fraud.

"We have paid salaries and allowances regularly to our armed forces who have registered in our biometric system via their bank account," Khaire said at a forum in Mogadishu, calling on the protesting soldiers to register in order to receive their salaries.

The U.S., EU and the United Arab Emirates are some of the countries which have been helping the Somali government to pay salaries for the security forces.

Experts have warned that the move to abandon military bases may expose the Horn of Africa nation to al-Shabab threats.

The military group on Monday briefly captured Bal’ad town, about 30 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, burnt battle wagons and freed detainers, but were overpowered by government forces backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) has refuted reports that it was planning to evacuate its staff in Somalia due to the current security situation.

"Rumors of a crisis meeting and evacuation of UN Somalia staff are completely unfounded. No such meeting has taken place and there are no evacuation plans underway," UNSOM said on Wednesday evening.



"U.S. security assistance to Somalia is an important part of our efforts to work with the people and government of Somalia for peace and stability," said Yamamoto.

"Peace and stability for Somalia means more stability in the entire region. It also means that the people of Somalia will be able to better focus on building a prosperous future," he added.

Discussions centered on progress the U.S. interagency team has witnessed in Somalia, as well as U.S. whole-of-government support for the Somali government.

They said Somali security forces and their partners continue to apply pressure on terrorist networks in Somalia to create conditions for further political and economic development.


High level AMISOM inspection team visits newly recovered Bariire on an assessment mission



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