By Cyrus Ombati

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) have denied claims they harassed residents of Garissa and burnt property while hunting down assailants who killed three soldiers.

Spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna said soldiers were not involved in the operation after killing of three of their colleagues on November 19.

Oguna gave the chronology of events that led to the incident, saying a communication gadget was recovered during the operation.

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“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 12.30pm, 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 Garissa military camp on transit to Sector Two in Somalia for Amisom duties.

Scampering for safety

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“The gunmen attacked the soldiers while they were changing a 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 after the incident, a platoon was dispatched to secure the vehicle and bodies of fallen soldiers.

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During this period, information was received from locals that the assailants had fled into a village called Bula Mzuri, necessitating a joint operation between Kenya Police and KDF.  “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 4.30pm the exercise was called off and by 5pm all KDF soldiers were back in camp.

“Following the killing 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 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. Military personnel did not return fire but moved to secure the camp and the airstrip.  On the same day, according to Oguna, a military convoy heading to Wajir found a makeshift roadblock. “Soldiers dismounted from the vehicles to clear stones off the road,” he said.

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Kenya Defence Forces Garissa terror soldiers