MOGADISHU  - Kenya’s army said Friday it had taken the southern Somali port city of Kismayo, the last stronghold of the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab, but the African Union force said operations were still ongoing. “Kismayo has fallen and with minimum resistance,” Kenyan army spokesman Cyrus Oguna told AFP, even as several residents said that fighting was ongoing and the Shebab still controlled the city centre. “It was a joint operation both on air and ground, we finally entered Kismayo at 2:00am,” said Oguna. “We cannot give casualty figures at the moment; the damage has not been assessed,” Oguna told AFP, insisting that Kenyan forces were inside the town.

“Operations are ongoing to neutralise specific Shebab targets in Kismayo,” the AU force in Somalia (AMISOM), of which the Kenyan troops are part, said in a statement. AMISOM appealed to Shebab fighters to give themselves up to the force. However, the rebels and city residents said the Kenyan troops were still on the outskirts of the city that they have been targeting for days. A Shebab commander in Kismayo also denied that soldiers had entered the city. “The enemy using military boats have deployed hundreds of soldiers on the coast late last night and the mujahedeen fighters are engaging in heavy fighting with them now,” said Sheik Mohamed Abu Fatuma. “They are not very close to the city because the coast where they are now is around nine kilometres from downtown,” he said.