The military is investigating whether the murderous Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) terror group had a hand in last Friday’s attack on Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia in which tens of soldiers are reported to have been killed.
Last year in December, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet revealed that Al Shabaab had split into two groups; one supporting ISIS and the other allied to Al Qaeda.
Military sources say the attack in El Adde was conducted in a style increasingly being used in Iraq by the ISIS terror gangs.
According to a website (Globalsecurity.org) that specialises in security research, the use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) is a growing technique in attacks by ISIS.
“In such instances, the lead vehicle is used as a decoy or barrier buster. Once stopped or neutralised and with coalition forces starting to move to inspect or detain, the main VBIED comes crashing through into the crowd before detonating, thus resulting in an increase in the casualty ratio,” the site says.
Reports indicate that during last week’s attack in El Adde, a suicide bomber drove the VBIED into the centre of the Kenyan camp and detonated a huge bomb with a fragmentation radius of 200 metres.
It has since been established the VBIEDs used in the attack were made from an Armoured Personnel Carrier captured from Burundian peacekeepers last year and taken to the outskirts of El Adde from Wargadud, 40km north of El Adde.
According to Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe, the attackers used three VBIEDs to strike, followed by suicide bombers.
“They apparently arrived in three such vehicles with one targeting a Somali National Army base while two went to the KDF one,” said Gen Mwathethe.
“They ran past two main roadblocks before they stopped inside the camp where explosives went off. Therein, they were detonated before the suicide bombers went on with their mission of setting the camp on fire,” he added.
In April last year, ISIS used the same tactic to capture Ramadi in Iraq. According to The Wall Street Journal, the group converted captured US military armoured vehicles into megabombs.
“Over the three-day surge in Ramadi, Islamic State fighters launched at least 27 such vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices that destroyed Iraq security forces’ defensive perimeters and crumbled multi-storey buildings,” wrote The Wall street Journal.
According to military sources, the Al Shabaab wing allied to ISIS orchestrated the well-planned attack.
The execution was well timed to take advantage of a “tactical weakness” during rotation of forces and explored clan differences in the area between the Ogaden and the Marehan.
The sources revealed KDF was preparing better reinforcement against VBIEDs after realising Al Shabaab were increasingly using this tactic to ram AMISOM defences.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
During Friday’s attack, three vehicles laden with explosives were used in the attack. Most of the soldiers in the camp were from Eldoret and Gilgil army bases and had just reported to replace their colleagues.
The first vehicle reportedly approached the Somali National Army (SNA) camp, which was empty during the time of attack. It is at this point that the militia then drove the second vehicle towards the Kenyan camp gate located 600 metres away, expecting the KDF team to respond to the SNA allies.
What followed were successive explosions from the two trucks detonated by suicide bombers who overran the KDF camp.
Kenyan forces have been carrying out a search, rescue and recovery effort since Friday.
Meanwhile bodies of the fallen heroes were expected yesterday evening after a contingent of special forces gained entry into the El Adde KDF camp.
The elite forces are on a mission to locate several Kenyan soldiers believed to be still alive but trapped in bushes. A small group of survivors is said to have made contact with other camps in Gedo region.
Most of the victims of the attack are yet to be traced.
Mwathethe revealed that some of the KDF personnel were taken hostage by Al Shabaab and are being used as human shield.
Reports indicate most of the insurgents involved in last week’s raid could have been Kenyan Al Shabaab recruits.