The Kenya strategy has been hailed as key to minimising casualty levels while at the same time, inflicting heavy losses on the terror group. So far, Kenya has lost seven soldiers (minus those who died in accidents) compared to the more than 2,000 Uganda and Burundi have lost. Save for Kenya, none of the countries involved in the Somali mission own fighter jets, military experts on the front-line say.
Uganda is said to have ordered one, but does not have qualified fighter pilots. Asked about details of the sticking points, Lt-Gen Gutti declined to be drawn into the issue. But there was consensus the delay was increasingly exposing Kenya to terrorism as the insurgents flee southwards from positions they have uprooted in the Sectors III&I.
Last week, Amisom troops comprising soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and the Transitional Federal Government made a swoop on Afgooye and killed seven Al Shabaab fighters. Although Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) denied it, The Standard On Sunday has reliably established about 10 Ugandan troops had died in the battle for key town northwest of Mogadishu.
KDF inactivity is said to have slowed down UPDF and Burundian army in Mogadishu and its environs, where insurgents’ raids have become sporadic and far-between. In the past three months, Amisom has succeeded in extending the frontline to more than 40 kilometres from the capital, providing the longest peace period the lawless country has known in 21 years.
As Amisom gets ready to embark on the second and most decisive phase of pacification of Somalia, Deputy Special Representative of the Chairman of the African Union Commission Wafula Wamunyinyi says: “Mogadishu is enjoying the longest period of peace since the fall of Siad Barre in 1991.Ordinary people are now moving about freely and internally displaced people who had fled the city are returning.”
Wamunyinyi says the concentration of Al Shabaab in the south makes them an easy target for Amisom soldiers. He estimates the crack down on the insurgents will be over by December, providing a chance for establishing security, governance and political institutions. The envoy says the training of police, army and civil service to take over from Amisom has kicked off.
Although the top command of Amisom would not admit it, The Standard On Sunday has reliably established a misunderstanding over the structure of the command when Kenya troops are formally integrated resulted in the delayed signing of the MoU, hence the lull in operation Linda Nchi.
The recent Cabinet reshuffle that saw Sirisia MP Moses Wetangula moved from the Foreign Affairs docket to Trade has somewhat slowed the pursuit of Al Shabaab. The new Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri is yet to address himself to the issue.
Operation Linda Nchi caught the entire world by surprise, although a senior military official told The Standard On Sunday the attack had been planned for four years before execution.
The KDF rapid fire was slowed when in December the United Nations Security Council, through resolution 2036, enjoined Kenya in the fight against al Shabaab and other elements deemed harmful to security and political stability in eastern Africa.