New details of El Adde attack: Somali general claims KDF received pre-attack intelligence
Several injured infantry soldiers who survived Friday's have been arriving at El Wak on Kenya's border with Somalia, wounded and exhausted and a controversial officer in Somalia's military has been quoted saying Kenya's forces were warned of an imminent attack on the base at El Adde hours before the assault.
Meanwhile The Standard has established that a Major Obuge of the Eldoret based 9th Kenya Rifles was the commander of the camp. His condition is not known amid growing suspicion that the layout of the camp was, most likely leaked to the insurgents who attacked and killed dozens of Kenya's soldiers.
And some officials in Kenya's military circles have called for a proper inquiry of what happened leading to the attack indicating that although Kenyan forces are well trained even for desert and jungle warfare modernization of equipment and weapons has been ignored, including the lack of helicopters capable of night combat
Obuge was on his second tour of duty having served in Southern Somalia before, according to military sources..
About a dozen soldiers are admitted at a base in Nairobi and they were airlifted from El Wak on Monday where they reported arrived the same day, wounded after walking in dense bush for about 100 kilometres.
An officer based in Nairobi told The Standard that "many soldiers are now turning up at El Wak, wounded, some with shrapnel injuries and others with bullet wounds. They have walked through bushes fighting their way towards the Kenyan border since Friday."
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Asked to explain why these survivors chose to walk towards El Wak and not locate Kenyan bases in Gedo which are nearer to El Adde, the officer said "areas near El Adde and between the Kenyan camps in have never been completely pacified and considered enemy territory. There are fewer enemy combatants between El Adde and El Wak despite the long distance.
It is this official who also told The Standard that there is growing suspicion that the layout of the El Adde camp, was most likely leaked to the insurgents because the suicide truck that wrecked exploded on hitting the camp's command centre where the commander is based, communication controlled from and which also hosts the armoury and fuel depots. Suspicion ranges from a traitor within or someone within the Somali National Army SNA. Although SNA officials do not, normally enter Kenyan camps they are capable of gathering intelligence about Kenya Defence Forces KDFs asses during routine contacts.
Meanwhile a report by the Voice of America quoting General Abbas Ibrahim Gure claiming that Major Obuge received intelligence of an imminent attack hours before the insurgent assault on the Kenyans "were ready for it" has sparked a new debate about whether Kenya's military command were totally caught unawares on Friday.
Abbas told the VOA on Sunday that forty Kenyans were killed in the assault, a claim that raises the possibility that many soldiers thought to be dead survived but are still in the bushes.
Abbas is a controversial general and a veteran of the defunct Somalia army under the late dictator Siyaad Barre. When Kenyan forces invaded Gedo region in October 2011 he was based at Burhache, opposite Kenya's El Wak, the launching base at that time for Kenya's war efforts in the so called Northern Sector, which covers the whole of Gedo towards the Juba River.
His claims have not been, independently, confirmed but there is no love lost between him and many within the KDF and the Ras Kamboni Brigade which controls Kismayo alongside Kenya's and Sierra Leonean forces in the Southern sector.
In June 2013 Abbas was detained by KDF in Kismayo, apparently on orders of Kenya's military. Reports indicated that Abbas deployed to Kismayo from Burhache on orders from Somalia's interim government in Mogadishu against the wishes of the Kenyans and Ras Kamboni brigade. He was later released. He is now based in Bardheere which was captured by Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in July last year. In 2013 Major Obuge was based in Ras Kamboni area in Southern Somalia.
The VOA report does not indicate how the alleged intelligence was channelled to the Kenyan camp at El Adde.
"It was information we knew, the information was received, and they were ready for it," Abbas said in a telephone interview with the VOA on Sunday.
The VOA report quotes some journalists and another official alleging that local residents supplied intelligence about an impending attack based on the arrival of groups of men in El Adde. Accounts from KDF indicated on Sunday that the only unusual movements in the town on that day occurred about three hours before the assault when most of the civilians vanished.
KDF sources have alleged that days before that there was no mass exodus of civilian, the traditional sign of the arrival of insurgents and imminent attack.
Yesterday an official told The Standard that the SNA most likely provided pre-attack intelligence but added that it is unclear whether there was adequate time to improvise defences. The official said that theoretically it was possible to destroy an advancing suicide truck even if it was an armoured personnel carrier using 82 millimetre and 105 millimetres rounds or highly explosive and armour piercing ammunition fired from hand held anti tank guns stocked by Kenya's infantry forces.
The official also said that even with adequate information it was difficult to confront armoured explosive trucks without helicopters with nigh vision capabilities but added that, theoretically, also the camp commanders could have organized devices, including trenches, sand embankments or tree logs to slow down the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device VBIED.
Meanwhile there are reports that new forces from Kenya have deployed at the devastated camp to secure it and locate several Kenyan soldiers believed to be still alive but trapped in bush and scrab- land amid reports that most of the insurgents involved in Friday's raid could have been Kenyan radicals.
The Standard established last evening that Kenyan ground forces and forces dropped from the air were trying to secure the camp and locate a small group of survivors said to have made contact with other camps in Gedo region.
Military sources told The Standard a preliminary analysis of the situation shows that the use of Vehicle Borne Improvised Devices VBIED in Friday's raid totally devastated KDF defences and that the insurgents who must have planned the raid for long exploited a tactical weakness during rotation of forces to exact Friday's carnage.
The sources also said Kenya's military planners are now thinking of preparing better fortifications against VBIEDs after realizing that Al Shabaab has, increasingly used this tactic borrowed from the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and Al Qaida in the Arabic Peninsular to deadly effect. The new fortifications could include trenches and blast walls.
A KDF official serving Bardheere on the banks of river Juba in Somalia told the Standard that in recent months militants in Gedo region constitute a large number of foreign fighters including Kenyan converts to radical islam.
He also said during insurgents rammed a VBIED into Kenya's defences after the capture of Bardheere from Al Shabaab in July last year but the attack was abortive because the car bomb was a soft skin vehicle and was destroyed before ramming Kenyan forces.
The VBIED used in Friday's raid was forged from an armour proof truck stolen from Burundian forces killed in Leego in Southern Somalia last year.
"After failing to breach our defences for long Al Shabaab fighters have adopted a new tactic since last year which they have used on Burundian, Uganda and now Kenyan forces. Last year they tried to ram a soft skin VBIED into our defences in Bardheere but it was destroyed killing the bomber and without inflicting damage on our forces," the officer who cannot be named told The Standard.
He also told that based on the changing demography Kenyan forces have encountered in Gedo which includes El Adde and Bardheere "there is a likelihood that most of the fighters involved in the El Adde operation were Kenyans," adding that while some of the foreign fighters carry identity documents indicating they are Kenyan, many are phenotypically non ethnic Somali.
The foreign fighters, including Kenyan converts are deemed to be better suited for certain operations and tasks and have been known to exhibit immense courage when charging at KDF forces and are also hardy and energetic. They, also, according to preliminary reports, towed the VBIED from Wargadud to the outskirts of El Adde.
"Al Shabaab has formed entire infantry squads of suicide bombers and they come into the battle field strapped with suicide vests," the expert said adding that "whereas Kenya's troops are tactically superior to the insurgents the tactic of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices is not anything that any military is prepared for.
"Regarding what happened in El Adde we now know that a VBIED totally devastates any forces through a huge explosion and mass casualties and after that the fighters including the suicide squads run in. This is exactly what happened [in El Adde]."
A separate sources told The Standard that KDF has not made any decision to move on Wargadud, a mountainous and heavy forested village, 40 kilometres north of El Adde where Friday's carnage was planned.
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El Adde attackAl ShabaabTerrorismKDF