NAIROBI — Kenya’s military declared Friday that it had captured the last stronghold of Somalia’s al-Shabab militia, potentially crippling the al-Qaeda-linked group financially and forcing it to rely on insurgent and terrorist attacks to advance its agenda.
It remained unclear, however, how much of the port town of Kismayo the Kenyans actually controlled and whether they were facing resistance there from the al-Shabab fighters.
Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, a spokesman for the Kenyan military, said Kenyan forces operating as part of an African Union effort to support the weak Somali government had entered Kismayo in a pre-dawn ocean assault dubbed Operation Sledge Hammer.
“Kismayo falls and under control,” Chirchir wrote on Twitter. “All forces in good shape and spirit.”
Al-Shabab said, also on Twitter, that it was fighting back against the Kenyan forces and maintained that “the courageous mujaheddin” were thwarting the invasion.
“Kismayo remains firmly in the hands of the mujaheddin, stay tuned for updates,” the militia wrote.