Friday, May 30, 2014

Tears of joy in Kismayu as 30 hostages held by Al-Shabaab rescued.

Mumino Haji was going about her khat selling business in Bar Aleen village on Friday May 30 when in a split of a second she suddenly turned from a free person to a prisoner after Al-Shabaab terrorists disguised as Somalia forces drew their guns and abducted 30 hostages including her.

The 30 civilian hostages were later rescued in a daring operation involving around 200 Interim Juba Administration forces (IJA) aided by AMISOM Kenya Defence Forces air surveillance capability.

The first rumors after the hostages were snatched away by Al-Shabaab indicated that they were driven towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib, but in reality many of hostages were actually taken in a string of kidnapping sprees along the way as the militants kept on filling up the two minivans they had first abducted Mumina and two other women from Bar Aleen.

By the time the kidnappers drove 20 km away from Kismayu the number of hostages had swelled to 30 and by then they were plotting how to escape from the Juba forces dragnet which was hot in the heels in pursuit of hostages.

Thanks to the aerial surveillance capability of AMISOM Kenyan Defence Forces, the kidnaper’s hideout was immediately spotted by the high flying Kenyan drone which relayed the message to the tactical information center in Kismayu which passed the message to the dozens of heavily armed Juba security forces trailing the kidnappers.
The kidnappers finally fled after the heavily armed Juba forces spotted them in the village of Jiirmalay 40 km from Kismayu leaving behind the 30 hostages who were immediately found unhurt and were secured by the advancing forces.

“We thank God and our forces for rescuing us. I had even said my last prayers knowing that it was my last day on earth. I cannot even believe am still alive because it is very rare to see a Somali captive released by Al-Shabaab as they always kill Somalis captives and release foreigners whose families are rich to pay ransom,” Mumina said as tears of joy dripped off her cheeks.

Immediately after they kidnapped the 30 hostages, they drove under duress towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib using back routes but thanks to AMISOM KDF air surveillance detected their movement and shared the information shared with IJA forces that immediately surrounded the area forcing the terrorists to flee leaving behind the 30 civilians unhurt.

The 30 freed hostages were brought to Kismayu in a convoy of over 15 vehicles as many of their relatives and friends come out to welcome them amid ululation, jubilation and tears of joy.

The hostages, all of who were women and men khat vendors, kidnapped from various locations around Kismayu on the same day said while they were under captivity the terrorists kept threatening to slit their throat or cutting off their limbs accusing them of spying for the Somalia government and AMISOM.

“We were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militia in a place called Qandal. They were almost ten in number. They kidnaped us and confiscated our cellphones and drove us far taking us round and round all-day. We don’t know where they took us. The soldiers later rescued us,” Mohamed Ahmed, one of the hostages said.

Brigadier General Ismail Sahardid, the Chief of Staff for the Interim Juba Administration in Kismayu, which is a federal state within Somalia, thanked AMISOM and the local community for their support in tracking down the Al-Shabaab kidnappers and finally rescuing the hostages.

“Our forces were supported by AMISOM aerial surveillance. After tracking the kidnapers at long last with the help of the God we successfully rescued the civilian hostages who numbered 30. We burnt one vehicle of the Al-Shabaab kidnapers,” the Brigadier General said, speaking in Kismayu after the forces safely rescued the hostages.

Al-Shabaab terrorist have resorted to such cowardly acts of kidnappings and extortion rackets in order to make quick dirty money to fund their callous activities since losing out most of their major economic hubs like Kismayu, Marka and other cities in Somalia that have since been liberated by joint AMISOM and Somalia forces.

Back in Kismayu, as the hostages finally reunited with their loved ones, women cuddled and shared tears of joy together while the men raised their clinched fists as a sign of victory for the rare rescue operation not so common in Somalia.