Top Stories / National
Friday, 27 Jan 2017 16:08 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
A new attack on KDF military base in Somalia early today has sent the number of Kenyan soldiers killed in the country to approximately 300 in five years since the war began, a heavy toll on personnel never before seen in a peacekeeping operations. The United Nations has run 71 operations since the concept was introduced at the end of World War II.
The mission in Somalia is operated by the African Union, and Al Shabaab terror group has inflicted a heavy toll on Burundian and Ugandan forces as well. But the damage inflicted on the Kenyan forces will come under sharp focus given the limited participation of the Kenyan public in deciding the nature of the war or its relevance given the infiltration of terrorists from Somalia into the country. The opposition and even some government legislators have called for the withdrawal of Kenya's troops from the country.
Given the growing unpopularity of the war, it has been believed in Kenya that the international community was the champion of Kenya's role in Somalia, but the new U.S. president Donald Trump has questioned both the basis and effectiveness of America's contribution to the war against Al Shabaab, whose strength, after a period of relative success of the African peacekeepers, has been aided by nationalist sentiment against a continued occupation of the country and the advanced weapons systems the fighters obtain by raiding peacekeepers' compounds.
Today's attack, according to reports in the international media, was conducted in the same manner of a previous one at KDF's El Adde camp in January 2016, where 180 soldiers were killed. When the Kenyan base in Kulbiyow, Lower Jubba, Somalia, was attacked by suspected Shabaab militants, the reports indicated, KDF-AMISOM, along with Somali National Army (SNA) counterpart tactically withdrew from the joint base after a twin Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIED) ambush followed by a gun and RPG engagement with the terror outfit.
According to reports, the incident took place early morning of today 27th January, with one vehicle used to gain access to the base while the second was detonated soon after. After the raid, it is reported that the militants have taken hostage some Kenyan soldiers and plan on parading them. Reinforcements sent to quell the attackers were forced to slow down their mission after encountering several IEDs along the way, which could explain why the fears of a high number of casualties are justified
The reports also showed that initial assessment of damage in the attack showed that the Al Shabaab suffered massive damages, as did the Kenya and Somali army though the militiamen destroyed military vehicles and made away with firearms. According to Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Mudab, the Kulbiyow attack has left 57 Kenyan soldiers dead, though the reports could not be verified. While the Shabaab have been known to use propaganda to further their cause, Kenyan military spokespeople also never comes clear over such news.
Kenya military spokesman Lt-Col Paul Njuguna refuted the claims from the rag-tag militia of the KDF casualties, terming them as false. “That is false,” Lt-Col Njuguna told Reuters, though he did not offer any further details of the exact number of soldiers killed in the attack. He also shot down suggestions that the base had been overrun, in reference to the claims by Abdiasis Mudab that the militiamen had taken over the base.
“Our soldiers repulsed the terrorists who had tried to access the camp using a Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device,” the officer said in a statement. He added that reinforcement has been deployed massively and the army is engaged in heavy fighting with the militants, who are launching counter attacks after being crippled by the AMISOM troops, of which Kenya’s army KDF is part.
Kiraka is a student of journalism at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK). His interests are business, politics, sports and media criticism.