Kenya has sent more Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers to Somalia in its continuing search, rescue and recovery operation, according to a communication from Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe.
The troops from various KDF divisions across the country were assembled and sent to the war-torn country to conduct operations in Al Shabaab bases at El Adde and other towns in the Gedo region.
The key mission for the forces is to annihilate Al Shabaab militants and recover or destroy military hardware that Al Shabaab insurgents looted from KDF camps during last week’s attack in El Adde.
“The latest ground troops from the infantry units, whose sole purpose is to fight and win land battles, are on their way to El Adde to reinforce several other soldiers currently engaging the militants in their hideouts near Gedo towns as fighter jets and attack helicopters continue to bombard the militants targets in Gedo and Baay regions,” said Mwathethe.
Military sources privy to the ongoing operation in Gedo region have confirmed that Al Shabaab militants had suffered heavy casualties after KDF F-5 fighter jets and Z-9 gunship attack helicopters from the 50th Air-Cavalry battalion bombed their bases in five towns near El Adde and Gedo town.
The developments come just two days after KDF said they believe they had killed the commander of the El Adde attack in two waves of air strikes conducted last Sunday.
In his press briefing on Thursday, General Mwathethe said hundreds of Al Shabaab militants had also been killed in the air strikes.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his address after visiting injured KDF soldiers on Friday, rubbished calls to withdraw troops from Somalia saying Kenyan soldiers would stay in the country until peace and stability has been attained.
He called on the international community to support AMISOM and KDF in their aspiration to bring peace in Somalia saying peace in the region means peace for the whole world.
The Head of State called on Kenyans and the opposition CORD to stand with KDF saying Kenya’s resolve will not be shaken by the attack at El Adde.
Speaking at the same event, CORD leader Raila Odinga expressed his support for KDF saying Al Shabaab and other terror groups must be stopped at all costs.
Odinga, while paying tribute to the soldiers killed at El Adde, said the country must stand together and take the battle to Al Shabaab’s backyard.
“We may not agree on how best to fight Al Shabaab and secure our land, but we are in agreement that the terror groups are bad for Kenya, they are bad for Somalia, and they are bad for the whole world.”
KDF was deployed to Somalia in 2011 in what was described as a measure to protect Kenya’s sovereignty.