Kenya's navy shells Kismayo in Somalia

A Kenyan soldier keeps lookout on the coast in southern Somalia, December 2011 Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October accusing al-Shabab of threatening its security

The Kenyan navy has shelled Kismayo, the main Somali city controlled by militant Islamist group al-Shabab, a military spokesman has told the BBC.

Colonel Cyrus Oguna said the attack was part of a push by an African Union (AU) force to capture the city.

Residents told the BBC that al-Shabab was reinforcing its positions in the city and people had started to flee.

AU forces have vowed to capture Kismayo - a port city that is key to financing and arming the al-Qaeda affiliate.

The move on Kismayo comes as Somali MPs prepare to choose a new president under a UN-brokered peace plan.

The election is due on 10 September.

'Lucrative charcoal trade'

Kismayo residents said the port area was shelled twice and the airport three times.

Al-Shabab was testing its weapons and mounting guns on battle wagons, the residents said.

Some residents were fleeing, either towards the capital, Mogadishu, or the border with Kenya, amidst fears that a big battle could take place, they added.


Last month, al-Shabab lost control of Merca, the third biggest port city after Mogadishu and Kismayo, to AU and pro-Somali government forces.

In June, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga appealed to the US and EU to give financial aid for a "final onslaught" on Kismayo.

Kenya sent troops to Somalia last year, saying that it wanted al-Shabab defeated because the militants threatened its security.

Kenyan soldiers have since joined the AU force in the country, boosting its numbers to nearly 18,000.

Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, withdrew from Mogadishu last year after heavy fighting with AU and Somali government forces.

But it still controls many areas in southern and central Somalia.

In July, a UN report said the export of charcoal from Kismayo and Merca helped al-Shabab generate millions of dollars - despite a UN Security Council ban on countries buying charcoal from Somalia.

The report accused the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia of failing to uphold the ban.

The total trade volume of charcoal exports from southern Somalia in 2011 increased to between nine million and 10 million sacks, generating revenues for the al-Qaeda group in excess of $25m (£16m), the investigators found, it said.

Are you in the area around Kismayo? Are you affected by the issues in this story? Send us your experiences using the form below.

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

Somalia: Failed State

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.