By Cyrus Ombati
GARISSA, KENYA, Nov. 22 -The Kenya Defence Forces have denied claims they harassed residents of Garissa and burnt property while hunting down assailants who had killed three soldiers.
Spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna said soldiers were not involved in the operation to hunt down the gang that had killed the three soldiers on November 19.
Col Oguna gave the chronology of events that led to the incident saying a communication gadget was recovered during the operation.
“We wish to point out that these accusations are malicious in nature and are lies crafted to taint the credibility of KDF,” said Oguna.
He said at about 12.30 pm five KDF soldiers were attacked by a group of unknown gunmen at a tyre repair point.
The five were part of a KDF contingent at the Garissa military camp on transit to Sector Two in Somalia for AMISOM duties.
The gunmen attacked the soldiers while they were in the process of unbolting the punctured tyre, shooting dead three KDF personnel. The other two could not fight back to avoid collateral damage since people had started scampering for safety following the gunshots, he said.
Oguna said upon the incident being reported at the camp, a platoon was dispatched to go and secure the vehicle and bodies of the fallen soldiers.
During this period information was received from the locals that the assailants had fled into a village called Bula Mzuri, necessitating a joint operation between Kenya police and KDF in hot pursuit of the fleeing criminals.
“A second platoon was dispatched to assist in that search; however it’s important to note that KDF surrounded the village while the police carried out the actual search,” said Oguna in a statement.
The search recovered a communication device and at 4.30 pm the exercise was called off and by 5.00 pm all KDF soldiers were back in camp.
“Following the killing of the soldiers and subsequently the hot pursuit of the gunmen mayhem broke out with locals engaging security agencies through violence, prompting the police to fire teargas to control the irate crowd.”
He added later in the evening information was received that a hotel, which is located far from the tyre repair point and the village where KDF had surrounded had been set ablaze and the fire had extended to other buildings.
The following day, Garissa military camp was fired at by unknown gunmen at about 9.30 am and military personnel did not return fire but moved to secure the camp and the airstrip.
On the same day a convoy heading to Wajir encountered a makeshift stones roadblock.
“Soldiers dismounted from the vehicles to clear stones off the road and it is at this point that unruly youth pelted them with stones forcing them to shoot in the air to disperse them and continue on their journey,” he said.
Oguna said the military has been deployed in Garissa and other locations in the country since independence.
“KDF was therefore not deployed in Garissa for they were already there. In the meantime the KDF is preparing a detailed report on the subject.”