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Kenya Defence Forces to vacate Kismayu as calm returns to port city

COUNTIES
By Cyrus Ombati | February 4th 2014
Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Col Willy Wesonga.

By Cyrus Ombati

Kenya: Most of Kenya’s troops have begun moving out of Somalia’s port city of Kismayu, which they captured in 2012 after ousting Al-Qaeda-linked militants, Al-Shabaab.

The new Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Col Willy Wesonga said the top army command will move to the upper areas of the newly formed Jubaland.

Wesonga said Sierra Leonean troops will replace Kenyan forces that will move to the Gedo region.

“Only small Kenyan units will remain in Kismayu to operate with those from Sierra Leone but the command will move upwards to Gedo region,’” he said.

Residents of Kismayu last month protested the announcement that KDF was moving out of the area amid fears that Al-Shabaab may return.

But Wesonga said the Sierra Leonean troops were equal to the task and that they are all under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

“Let the residents know that some of our troops will remain in Kismayu and even those from Sierra Leone are able to contain the situation,” he said, adding that most of the areas are now relatively safe.

He spoke after being introduced as the new KDF spokesman to replace Col Cyrus Oguna who is moving to other assignments outside the country.

According to the Associated Press, Kenya is one of several African countries that have troops in Somalia, as part of Amisom, which is backing the country’s weak government against an onslaught by the Islamic extremists of Al-Shabaab.

Kenyan troops in Kismayu were last year accused of backing one militia, the Raskamboni brigade, against others in deadly fighting there, which saw Ahmed Madobe installed as the leader.

The Raskamboni brigade, which helped Kenya to push Al-Shabaab militants out of Kismayu in 2012, is led by Madobe, a Somali warlord who has established a local administration in the port city that is independent of the central government.

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