BOSTON — The Kenyan defense ministry has increased its troop presence in Somalia in order to help in a final push to eliminate the military capacity of Al Shabaab.
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Kenyan troops will attempt to eliminate the Islamists’ strongholds in the Southern Somalia, while coordinating with African Union troops. They will focus their efforts towards the rebels on the outskirts of Mogadishu, according to According to Augustine Mahiga, the UN’s chief’s special envoy to Somalia.
Mahiga outlined the new plan in an interview with Reuters:
"AMISOM (the AU force) is (conducting) operations on the outskirts of Mogadishu and they'll be heading towards the Afgoye corridor. That is where Al Shabaab has retreated to and has the highest concentration of its troops. They (Kenyan troops) take Kismayu and from there ... they'll progress northwards to Marka and the AMISOM troops from Mogadishu will also be going further south. It is a strategy that has been divided into sectors."
Mahiga, whose relocation to Somalia marks the first United Nations presence there in 17 years, warned observers to temper their optimism. The ability of Al Shabaab to blend in with the general population, combined with their access to modern weaponry has created further obstacles and added to the complexity of the mission.
The coordination of the Kenyan military with the AMISOM forces has grown in the struggle against Al Shabaab, much to the pleasure of the Kenyan govenment. They seek to further integrate their forces and troops already deployed in Somalia further into the AMISOM forces, as soon as the UN Security Council approves an increase in the force's size.
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Kenya is not the only nation to committ troops to help expel Al Shabaab from Somalia. The AMISOM forces, which now has north of 10,000 troops, are made up of mostly Ugandan and Burundian troops, according to The Daily Beast. Ethiopia has committed troops of their own, and the United States has used drone strikes to help eliminate key Al Shabaab commanders as well.