(AA) – Kenyan fighter jets reportedly hit several suspected Al-Shabaab targets in Somalia on Monday, one day after four Kenyans were killed by the militant group, according to eyewitnesses.
“I saw two jet fighters fly over Mandera town heading towards Somalia,” Iyessa Seneta, a resident of Mandera, capital city of Kenya’s Mandera County, told The Anadolu Agency.
“They flew over our town several times before dropping missiles on a hill across the border not far from our town,” he said.
Mandera County, located near Kenya’s border with Somalia, has recently come under repeated attack by Al-Shabaab.
“I saw F16 jet fighters over Mandera for some 30 minutes. Later, we could hear bombardments from the Somali side,” Moalim Saleh, a Mandera County government official, told AA.
The hills of Somalia’s Gedo region are believed to be an Al-Shabaab stronghold, where recent attacks on Kenyan soil have been planned.
In southern Somalia’s Shabaab-held town of Jilib, residents likewise confirmed seeing jet fighters in the skies.
Al-Shabaab militants in Jilib fired several anti-aircraft missiles, according to residents and websites affiliated with the group.
There have been reports that Kenyan jets also struck Al-Shabaab military bases near the southern town of Bardhere.
There has been no official confirmation by the Kenyan or Somali authorities regarding the reported aerial bombardments.
The airstrikes likely come in response to recent militant attacks in Mandera County.
Four people were killed by gunmen on Sunday in the same border town, only two days after four others were killed in an attack on the Mandera governor’s convoy.
Al-Shabaab, which has threatened to carry out attacks until Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia, later claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Kenya first sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to join the government’s fight against the radical Qaeda-linked movement.
Al-Shabaab has recently suffered several significant blows, losing most of its strongholds in southern and central Somalia to government and African Union troops.
Nevertheless, the group has continued to launch deadly attacks on government officials and security personnel.