Capital FM (Nairobi)

22 November 2012

Kenya: Claims Against KDF Over Garissa Unrest Unfair

opinion

Our attention has been drawn to arising media reports accusing KDF of criminal activity such as rape, torture, looting, killing of women, children and burning business and residential property in Garissa, following an incident that took place on November 19, 2012, during which three KDF soldiers were killed by unknown assailants at a tyre repair point in Garissa.

We wish to point out that these accusations are malicious in nature and are lies crafted to taint the credibility of KDF.

Due to aforementioned accusations we wish to clarify on the extent of KDF activities in Garissa.

On November 19, 2012 at around 1230hrs 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 the Garissa military camp on transit to Sector Two in Somalia for AMISOM duties.

The gunmen attacked the soldiers while they were in the process of unbolting the punctured 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.

Upon the incident being reported at the camp, a platoon was dispatched to go and secure the vehicle and bodies of the fallen soldiers.

During this period information was received from the locals that the assailants had fled into a village called Bula Mzuri, necessitating a joint operation between Kenya police and KDF in hot pursuit of the fleeing criminals. A second platoon was dispatched to assist in that search; however it's important to note that KDF surrounded the village while the Kenya Police carried out the actual search.

The search recovered a communication device. At 1630hrs the exercise was called off and by 1700hrs all KDF soldiers were back in camp.

It should be appreciated that following the killing of the soldiers 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.

Later in the evening information was received that a hotel (located far from the tyre repair point and the village where KDF had surrounded) had been set ablaze and the fire had extended to other buildings.

On Tuesday November 20, the Garissa military camp was fired at by unknown gunmen at 0930hrs. Military personnel did not return fire but moved to secure the camp and the airstrip.

Later in the day, a convoy heading to Wajir encountered a makeshift stones roadblock. Soldiers dismounted from the vehicles to clear stones off the road and it is at this point that unruly youth pelted them with stones forcing them to shoot in the air to disperse them and continue on their journey.

Our attention has also been drawn to all manner of opinions and assertions on how KDF was deployed in Garissa for "this operation".

It is important for Kenyans to know that the military has been deployed in Garissa and other locations in the country since independence. KDF was therefore not deployed in Garissa for they were already there. KDF together with other security agencies following the senseless murder of three soldiers who had incidentally just arrived from Kismayu, embarked on an immediate hot pursuit of the murderers as a natural human instinct would dictate.

In the meantime the KDF is preparing a detailed report on the subject, at the same time we regret the murder of our colleagues and condole with the bereaved families.

Finally, we wish to state that KDF remains committed to ensuring that the security of this nation is maintained and when called upon to help in internal security KDF will conduct such operations with utmost care and concern of innocent civilians.

Allegations suggesting KDF committed atrocities in Garissa are false and must cease.

Colonel Oguna is the Information Operations Officer of the Kenyan military

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