Kismayu Jubbaland — Before the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) carried out its airstrike on an al-Shabaab training camp near Garbaharey in Somalia's Gedo, region jubbland state on January 9th, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ) officials alerted the Kenyans that al-Shabaab leaders were meeting in Birta Dher village, about 18 kilometres south of the city.
"We told them that al-Shabaab's most senior man, Ahmed Godane, was present at the location," said Mohamed Hussein al-Qadi, the spokesman for government-allied ASWJ, which controls parts of Gedo Jubaland State including Garbaharey . "The strike came as a result of the co-operation between us, but unfortunately the most senior man whom we wanted to kill there escaped. However, senior al-Shabaab officers who were valuable to him were all killed and we are working on getting a complete list of their names."
Al-Qadi identified three of the men killed as Zakur Bin Khalid, Abdi Malik and Ubeyda -- all of Arab origin. A fourth man killed, Abdirahman Halane, is believed to be of Somali origin and was the al-Shabaab leader of Birta Dheer, he said.The airstrike killed at least 30 al-Shabaab militants, and security forces are still verifying their names and identities, he said.Al-Qadi said no civilians were harmed in the incident and all the people who were impacted were al-Shabaab operatives. The strike took place after 1 pm and it continued for about 20 minutes, he said."We are sure that only the enemies, who were holding a very big meeting at the time, were destroyed there," he said."We know from independent sources from within [al-Shabaab] that [Ahmed Godane] was in the meeting," al-Qadi added. "He was our main target in the operation, but unfortunately Godane escaped the location of the strike about 15 minutes before the attack."
Garbaharey Gedo , Jubaland State residents welcome KDF strike:
Garbaharey resident Sahra Ahmed, a 35-year-old mother of eight, told Sabahi the public welcomed the airstrike that resulted in the deaths of senior al-Shabaab officials.
"We suddenly heard the sound of planes flying overhead followed by heavy weapons firing, but we could not tell where the exact location of the strike was," she recalled. "An hour later, we heard that an airstrike was carried out against men who were part of al-Shabaab and who were engaged in an effort to incite violence in Birta Dher village.""I was very happy when I heard they suffered immense losses and that senior al-Shabaab officers were killed because al-Shabaab has caused us many problems," Ahmed said.Ahmed said the KDF airstrike was the most-discussed topic in Garbaharey for several days, but she also said locals have not seen any injured or dead members of al-Shabaab."Al-Shabaab does not want anyone to see their losses so they bury their dead members wherever they are killed," she said. "They also finish off anyone who is heavily injured. They kill the person with their own hands so that their losses are not documented. This is not a group that can be said to be following the religion of Islam."
Salad Ali, a 59-year-old elder from Garbaharey, Gedo Jubaland State said local elders welcomed the airstrike against al-Shabaab."We heard about the strike that killed the al-Shabaab officers and we welcome any battle against the terrorists," he told Sabahi."When I heard the sound of shelling from the planes, I immediately realised that the battle against al-Shabaab was not a small one," he said. "I can say that this operation should have been carried out a long time ago. I am calling on anyone who is ready to eliminate al-Shabaab to double such attacks."Fellow Garbaharey elder, 61-year-old Mohamed Hassan, said he would have loved it if Godane was killed in the airstrike."I got a headache when I heard that the most evil man in al-Shabaab, Ahmed Godane, escaped the attack," he told Sabahi. "Al-Shabaab will not stop causing problems for the [Somali] public and neighbouring countries unless that man is killed. Every effort must be made to eliminate that man, and the public has to always report any information they get about him."