Kenya troops ‘pull out of Somali el-Ade base’


Kenyan forces have pulled out from a military base in Somalia which was attacked by militant Islamist group al-Shabab, residents say.

Al-Shabab said it had killed about 100 troops in the assault on the base in the south-western town of el-Ade.

An army spokesman said there was a “normal operational manoeuvre”, and it could not be called a withdrawal.

Kenya has not said how many of its troops were killed in the 15 January attack by the al-Qaeda-linked group.

Kenya contributes about 4,000 troops to the 22,000-strong African Union force battling the militants in Somalia.

Residents in el-Ade told the BBC they welcomed the pull-out, as they had been subjected to constant harassment and air strikes from Kenyan forces since the assault on the base.

Several civilians had been killed during the Kenyan operation, they added.

DNA tests

In a BBC interview, army spokesman Col David Obonyo denied this, saying only an al-Shabab camp had been targeted.

Kenya has said that the bombs used by insurgents at the el-Ade base were three times more powerful than that used by al-Qaeda in the 1998 US embassy attack in the capital, Nairobi, which left 224 people dead.

Col Obonyo said some of the soldiers killed in el-Ade had been identified, but DNA tests were still being conducted to identify the rest.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza reports from the Kenyan town of Eldoret that families there have been asked to provide DNA samples to help identify what are believed to be badly mutilated bodies.

The families are anxious, and it has been a long and agonising wait for them, he says.

Col Obonyo said Kenyan forces were not “withdrawing from any of our positions in Somalia”.

“Nobody says we must be in that camp. We can operate from another site,” he said, in response to residents saying that troops had vacated their base in el-Ade.

Col Obonyo refused to divulge how many troops were killed or wounded in the assault.

If al-Shabab’s statement that about 100 troops were killed is confirmed, it will be the deadliest assault on Kenyan forces since they crossed into Somalia in 2011, correspondents say.

Last week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta told a memorial service for the fallen soldiers that Kenyan troops would stay in Somalia despite the attack.


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