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Kenya Army Fight First Direct Battle With al-Shabaab; 9 Dead

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Kenyan forces killed at least nine al-Shabaab fighters in their first engagement with the al-Qaeda-linked militia since beginning an incursion into Somalia 13 days ago, the army said.

Two Kenyan soldiers were injured, one critically, in the fighting that took place yesterday near Tabda, about 470 kilometers (292 miles) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, Major Emmanuel Chirchir, spokesman for the Kenya Defence Forces, said in an e-mailed statement. The Somalia towns of Busar and Buarahache were captured and an al-Shabaab logistical and training camp at Anole was also attacked, he said.

Movements by Kenya’s military are being impeded by “heavy rains,” Chirchir said. “However, clear skies during the day allows for air action.”

Kenyan soldiers entered neighboring Somalia last week after accusing al-Shabaab of kidnapping tourists and aid workers in Kenya. Al-Shabaab denied any involvement in the kidnappings and vowed to carry out reprisal attacks against Kenya. This week, two bomb blasts in Nairobi killed one person and injured 28 people in attacks the government said were inspired by al-Shabaab.

Life Sentence

A man arrested in connection with the Oct. 24 bombings, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, was charged with nine counts including engaging in organized criminal activity and of being a member of al-Shabaab. Oliacha, 28, was sentenced to life in prison today by Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei after pleading guilty to all charges, the Daily Nation reported.

At least four people died yesterday when a vehicle carrying Education Ministry officials was attacked by suspected bandits about 100 kilometers south of Mandera, a northeastern Kenyan town on the border of Somalia, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in an e-mailed statement. Police are searching for the perpetrators, he said.

Four police officers were injured today when a convoy travelling to Nairobi hit an explosive device that had been placed on the road, Kiraithe said in a separate statement. The incident is being treated as a “deliberate criminal act” and two people were arrested near the scene, he said.

Al-Shabaab has waged a four-year campaign against Somalia’s United Nations-backed government and controls most of central and southern Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation has been engulfed by civil war for two decades and hasn’t had a functioning government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at

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