NEW YORK (Sh.M.Network)-The United Nations warned Tuesday (August 14th) of an impending assault on the southern Somali port of Kismayo, the largest remaining stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab, AFP reported.
“Fighting for control of the town appears imminent,” said Mark Bowden, UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia.
African Union, Ethiopian and Somali forces have wrested a string of towns from al-Shabaab, with the capture of Kismayo — a crucial revenue source for the fighters — seen as a key target.
An exact time line has not been released publicly, but Somali Major General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhegobadan, Kenya Defence Forces chief General Julius Karangi and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga have said the port city will fall by August.
Last week, al-Shabaab officials and residents said three civilians were killed by missile strikes on the port city after al-Shabaab militants threw grenades at warships anchored off the coast. Several foreign navies operate anti-piracy patrols off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.
“I am deeply concerned by recent reports of civilian casualties in Kismayo caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes,” Bowden said. “I reiterate my call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimise the impact of conflict on civilians, and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need”