Kenyatta mourns KDF troops killed in Somalia


President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday issued a terse statement about the attack on the AMISOM camp in Somalia, confirming that an undisclosed number of Kenyan soldiers were killed.

The President’s statement did not state the exact number of soldiers killed, only stating that “our soldiers’ blood will not be shed in vain”.

The attack occurred when Al Shabaab terrorists attacked the AMISOM base in El Adde at about 4 am.

“Regrettably, some of our patriots in uniform paid the ultimate price. It is heart-breaking,” President Kenyatta said, and vowed “We will not be cowed by these cowards. With our allies, we will continue in Somalia to fulfil our mission.”

Several Al Shabaab terrorists were also reported to have been killed in the attack which was described as the worst since Kenya Defence Forces crossed over into Somalia to fight the terror group that has links with Al Qaeda and ISIS.

“We will hunt down the criminals involved in today’s events,” President Kenyatta stressed.

And following the attack, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet urged Kenyans to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or persons, because of the increased terror threats globally.

“I call on Kenyans to maintain vigilance at all times after these latest attacks in Somalia and Indonesia,” Boinnet told Capital FM News on telephone, and advised owners of buildings, hotels as well as public transport operators to thoroughly scrutinize their customers for security reasons.

Boinnet had in December warned that the terror threat in the country was real after Al Shabaab terrorists split into two with one supporting Al Qaeda and another ISIS.

CORD leader Raila Odinga too sent condolences to families of the Kenyan soldiers killed in Friday’s attack, saying “as a nation we must stand together in condemning this brutal and brazen attack on freedom.”

Reports from Somalia indicate that the attack occurred when the insurgents rammed a suicide car bomb at the military base to gain entry.

“They launched an offensive on a military base at El-Adde and there was heavy fighting which caused casualties,” Somali army colonel Idris Ahmed said, adding an Al Shabaab suicide commando blasted a way into the base in the Gedo region, which borders Kenya and Ethiopia.

Both Somali troops and Kenyan soldiers with the AU force, AMISOM, are deployed at the isolated base.

“There was a suicide attack followed by the fighting and it seems that the base was stormed,” Ahmed said.

“AMISOM can confirm that there was an attack on our troops in El-Adde,” the force said in a brief statement hours after the attack began, but gave no further details.

There were varied figures floated by the AMISOM and Al Shabaab Spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab who is known to exaggerate the number of troops killed, while AMISOM rarely gives exact figures.

Kenya’s Military Spokesman Col David Obonyo had earlier issued a brief statement on the attack but steered clear of the casualty figures, saying it was yet to be confirmed.

While Obonyo said the attack occurred at a Somalia National Army base, the statement from State House was categorical that it occurred at the AMISOM base at El Adde.

El Adde is occupied by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) serving under AMISOM.

“Our gallant soldiers reacted swiftly to protect their camp; to protect their peace and stability that they are in Somalia to secure; and to protect our country from its enemies and their sympathizers,” the president said.

The attack came as politicians met in the southern port of Kismayu, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud leading a “National Consultative Forum” to debate planned elections due later this year.

“Somalia is no longer a failed state,” Mohamud said in a statement, which made no reference to the attack. “Somalia is building a strong foundation to support a better future.”

Local elder Hussein Adam said he heard a huge explosion followed by intense gunfire for about 45 minutes.

“We don’t know about the casualties, but people who went there saw many dead bodies strewn around,” he said, having spoken to those who went to the base.

Al Shabaab, fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed and AU-protected government, has launched a string of similar attacks.

In September 2015, Al Shabaab fighters stormed a Ugandan AMISOM base in Janale district, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Mogadishu in the Lower Shabelle region.

And in June, Shabaab killed dozens of Burundian soldiers when they overran an AMISOM outpost northwest of Mogadishu.

The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks in the capital.

But the 22,000-strong AMISOM force has also made significant gains against the Sheba, pushing them out of several strongholds in the southwest.

The Shabaab have also staged attacks in Kenya, killing at least 67 people at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in 2013 and massacring 148 people at a university in Garissa in April 2015.

The militants say the attacks are retaliation for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia and “war crimes” committed by Kenyan troops.



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