By Lucianne Limo and Cyrus Ombati
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officials will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formally join African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) on Saturday in Addis Ababa.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji, Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi and legal officers among other military officers will travel to Ethiopia to seal the deal.
“Once the deal is signed, KDF will join the second and final stage to eradicate Al Shabaab in Lower Juba and capture Kismayu, Al Shabaab’s main stronghold and financial hub,” a statement by Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The ministry further quoted Amisom’s deputy spokesman Captain Gilbert Nitunga saying the offensive would be launched in June from four fronts.
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“The Ugandan and Burundian troops will be responsible for coastal offensives in Balcad, Marka, and Barawe Bay, Bakool, and parts of Gedo region. The Djiboutian contingent will secure Hiraan region and set up base in Beledweyne,” he added.
The Kenyan troops, the statement said, are currently about five kilometres from Afmadhow north of Kismayu.
“We will soon capture Kismayu. The delay has been occasioned by delayed signing of MoU and the fact that we wanted to create a buffer zone so that we push the militia far towards the border,” he said after graduation of officers from various African countries and some government officials at Kenya Defence College.
Haji said despite the spate of terrorism attacks in the country, the Government will not withdraw its troops from Somalia.
“We will only remove our troops once we secure Somalia. Our mission is to help the country,” he added.
He, however, urged Kenyans to be vigilant and report suspicious persons.
Meanwhile, one of the victims of Monday’s blast who was admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital died.
The woman succumbed to her injuries. She had sustained 90 per cent degree burns.
Hospital spokesperson Kibet Mengich said she died at 6.45am on Thursday.
One patient with 50 per cent degree burns is still admitted to intensive care unit while two others suffering from spinal shock and post-stress disorder are admitted in general wards.
Relatives of another patient, who suffered ten per cent degree burns, transferred her to Nairobi Hospital on Tuesday evening.
Police are yet to give further statements regarding materials that were used to manufacture the explosive that went off at about 1pm, injuring more than 30 people.
The Government blamed Al Shabaab for the explosion.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti said preliminary findings had shown the group was behind the attack.
“Obviously, Al Shabaab gang was behind the attack and we are pursuing them. Police are pursuing various leads on the whereabouts of the attackers,” said Saitoti.
He made the remarks in his office when he met US Senator for Delaware Christopher Coons, who visited him in the company of ambassador Scott Gration, counsellor for political affairs Margot Sullivan and Congress representative Adam Smith.
Senator Coons said US will continue to help Kenya in efforts to address problems of insecurity posed by militants.