Kenyan recruits have fled Somalia following sustained US airstrikes against al Shabaab terrorists, military sources confirmed on Friday.
The recruits have been accused of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency and others targeting the militants’ camps in Somalia.
Joseph Kanyiri, director of the Boni Enclave Campaign, said some of those running away are part of the Jaysh Ayman elite squad, made up of many Kenyans.
Kanyiri noted a multi-agency team has scaled up security along the border with Somalia to deal with armed fighters.
On Tuesday, more than 100 militants were killed on a camp 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu.
“We are aware the condition in Somalia is not conducive for them and that they have decided to flee to the country. We urge them to surrender to authorities,” he told The Star on Friday.
Somalia’s government said on Wednesday it had requested the airstrike which killed suspected militants to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against al Shabaab.
“Those militants were preparing explosives and attacks. Operations against al Shabaab have been stepped up,” Abdirahman Omar Oman, the Somali minister, told Reuters.
“We have asked the US to help us from the air to make our readied ground offensive more successful.”
Kanyiri said operations to flush al Shabaab out of Boni Forest have also affected their operations in Somalia as much destruction has taken place.
He said the operations that include airstrikes and cordons to trap the terrorists have seen security agents achieve 80 per cent of their security target.
More than 300 members of the al Qaeda-linked group have operated from the forest since 2012. They retreat to it after attacking civilians and police officers.
Sources in the military further say intelligence agencies have managed to infiltrate the al Shabaab network and have averted most of their attacks. They are also assisting the United States with its operations.
In March 2016, more than 150 fighters were killed in airstrikes by the US.
But the terror group has retaliated. In January 2016, it executed three Kenyans accused of spying for the CIA and other agencies in Somalia.
Early this year, Kenyans Yusuf Hassan and Ahmed Nur were executed by al Shabaab’s firing squad in Buq Aqable, Hiran region. The fate of others remains unknown.