The Star (Nairobi)

9 December 2011

Kenya: 128 TFG Soldiers Injured So Far in Somalia Battle

The number of casualties is on the rise as Kenya-backed Transitional Federal Government troops and al Shabaab militias battle for control of large swathes of lawless Somalia.

The Garissa District Hospital has admitted 128 injured TFG solders since Operation Linda Nchi was launched in mid October.

Multiple sources confirmed the soldiers have, mainly, gunshot wounds and burns from explosives. "These people came to the hospital in very bad conditions from bullet wounds, burns and deep head cuts, injuries consistent with a situation of fierce gun fighting, use of explosives and other weapons between the TFG solders and the al Shabaab," one of the sources said. Critically injured troops are flown to Mombasa or Nairobi for special care.

Because of the rising numbers, Kenya Army doctors have fashioned out a wing at the district hospital for the foreign soldiers injured in Somalia. The separate and isolated wing has been established to shield the men from public view because many in Garissa are not comfortable with the high security mounted at the hospital by the army in and outside the hospital. Over 54 TFG soldiers were injured during the deadly one-on-one fight on Monday while over 30 al Shabaab fighters were injured in the clash and taken to Mareray and Afmadhow hospitals for treatment.

According to the Kenyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir, out of the 54 injured TFG soldiers, 25 were airlifted to Garissa for treatment. "The attack in Hayo in Central Sector marks the deadliest one on one engagement between TFG and Al Shabaab. In the TFG 11 died, 54 injured, 25 of those injured were airlifted to Garissa and Nairobi for treatment. Over 40 Al Shabaab dead and many more injured. The KDF on 5 December 2011 hit two al Shabaab camps in Afmadhow," Chirchir said on Monday.

Garissa District Hospital has been receiving most of the casualties from from both the Kenyan Defence Forces and the TFG soldiers from the fighting in Somalia against al Shabaab. The injured soldiers are being treated by doctors from the Kenyan military who have established centres and wards at the hospital which is reportedly overwhelmed by the injured. The Shabaab have deployed more fighters in Mogadishu following a spate of bomb explosions in central Mogadishu some of which have been claimed by the al Qaeda-linked group.

More al Shabaab fighters have been deployed in Mogadishu's Baklad area in the middle Shabelle and through Heliwaa in Banadir area while the fighting has been reported in Karan and Huriwa areas of the city. Several TFG soldiers were reportedly injured during an attack by al Shabaab in Mogadishu's Holwadag junction.

Meanwhile, the newly relaunched al Shabaab has now taken its battle to Twitter after opening an account to counter the Kenyan military. The insurgents yesterday began tweeting @HSMPRess where the Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen press office is now sending tweets. Maj Chirchir on Monday said the group is likely to split into two with one group, Imaarat Islamiya, led by one Muktar. "Al Shabaab likey to split into two ... watch out for Imaarat Islamiya ... Muktar likely to lead the faction," Chirchir tweeted then.

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