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Details of Al Shabaab attack on Kenyan forces emerge

By Standard Team
Updated Mon, January 18th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3
Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe address the press at Wilson Airport after receiving four KDF soldiers who were injured in Somalia attack. ( Photo: Denish Ochieng)

The soldiers killed and injured by Al Shabaab at El Adde in Somalia's Gedo region belonged to 9th Kenya Rifles formation in Eldoret and arrived in Somalia by road two days before the attack by militants, military sources indicate.

KDF soldiers in Somalia under AMISOM are deployed for periods and are often rotated within Somalia itself or are withdrawn and replaced with other soldiers after a certain period.

The 9th Kenya Rifles is an infantry formation and the soldiers, some who were on their second tour of duty in Somalia, left Eldoret two weeks ago for Mandera before entering Somalia by road last week.

The sources also told The Standard that identification of the deceased and notification of families may take long because most of the bodies were dismembered extensively in the massive explosions.

Depending on the extent of dismemberment, a few may be identified by the tag which bears the soldier's name, blood group and other details.

Additional information on identity will come from debriefing of the injured but most information will be known from DNA sequencing of next of kin after collection of all available body parts from the scene of Kenya's worst battlefield carnage.

Although KDF and Somalia National Army (SNA) work in collaboration and the Somali forces are considered friendly forces, there is little or no interaction between soldiers and even SNA commanders are not allowed into KDF camps.

Foot patrols

SNA forces are often lightly armed and lack enough armour.

KDF's bases in Gedo are not similar to what readers are accustomed to in the permanent barracks—they are mainly tented or camouflage embankments in a flat and extensively cleared area, secured by watchtowers and armed sentries atop armoured personnel carriers (APC).

Besides moving in the APC, soldiers mount foot patrols in townships and are also supported by air cavalry helicopters and fixed-wing jet fighters in some missions.

The camps contain the command centre and include all sorts of teams including medical corps, fighting units, tank platoons, artillery and mortar batteries and teams, besides reconnaissance and other fighting units such as special forces.

We have also established that although special forces have arrived by air in and around the wrecked base, other Kenyan forces in Busar, Taraqa, Fafaxaduun, El Win and Bardheere have not moved into El Adde for lack of reliable intelligence and fear that the militants, who are said to have included Kenyan foreign fighters, might have mined this area or rigged it with explosives.

If confirmed, the toll reported to be over 60, it would mean that more than half of the soldiers stationed at the camp were wiped out in the huge explosion detonated by a suicide bomber early on Friday.

The camp had one company or the equivalent of 100 to 150 soldiers commanded by an officer.

Reports show that a suicide bomber drove the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) into the centre of the Kenyan camp and detonated a huge bomb with a fragmentation radius of 200 metres.

Militants then surged in with rockets and machine guns. Many of them also perished in the 5am explosion. Some accounts now indicate that more than one VBIED was detonated.

And sources within the military told The Standard that special forces were deployed in areas around El Adde on Friday during the day and Saturday for search and rescue operations.

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