Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman Colonel David Obonyo said during the attack on Thursday, 11 technical vehicles were also destroyed following a major artillery bombardment against the insurgents in Jungal, 15 km northwest of Tarako and 40km West of Bardhere in Gedo region. A military official that would rather stay anonymous said the drone killed several rebels while wounding others, and one of those killed was Ismael Jabhad, an al-Shabab commander.
The attack comes just a week ahead of President Obama’s scheduled state visit to Kenya, and will probably be hyped by the Kenyan government as proof of their close military ties.
Though no one has claimed responsibility for the incident, Somali-based militant group al-shabab has in the past used landmines to attack Kenyan soldiers. Obama earlier this week said terrorism would be part of his agenda when he visits.
The United States has in recent years launched numerous drone strikes against Shabaab leaders, including a strike last September that killed the group’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. All communications into the region were cut off after the strike, so there has been no confirmation on the victims.
Although Amisom, under whose umbrella the Kenya Defence Forces is operating, could not immediately identify all the militants who died in the ground and drone attacks, the targeted two insurgency strongholds are believed to have been crucial in planning and logistics of al Shabaab, where their top commanders were operating from.
“Village residents are telling us a missile fired from an aircraft struck a vehicle and a nearby military camp belonging to Shabaab”, said Hassan Gesle, another elder.
“We conducted two offensives in the terrorists’ sanctuary”, he said late on Thursday night. “Some terrorists were neutralised”, he added.