21 January 2016

Kenya: Military Top Command Not Sure About Number of Soldiers Killed

Photo: Daily Nation
Soldiers at Wilson Airport carry the four bodies soon after being offloaded from a Kenya Air Force plane on January 18, 2016.

Kenya Defence Forces generals are not sure about the exact number of soldiers killed in Somalia on Friday, last week.

Six days after the attack, the Defence Ministry has only accounted for about 30 soldiers who were at El-Adde camp before it was attacked by Al-Shabaab militants.

Information shows that the number of soldiers confirmed dead or missing could be more than 100.

The camp had a company-size force at the time of the bloody attack. A military company usually has 80 to 200 soldiers.

The Nation forwarded nine questions to the ministry headquarters but they had not been replied to by the time of going to press on Wednesday.

The soldiers' families also say the military has not contacted them.


Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday supported KDF's presence in Somalia and urged Kenyans "to stand with families of fallen heroes".

"The only way to guarantee our nation's security is to help restore peace in our neighbour's house. We call upon the international community to work with Kenya to help make this possible as soon as possible," the bishops conference Chairman Philip Anyolo said in a statement.

"We are in solidarity with our men and women in uniform who are serving in Somalia and whose selfless service to our country has seen them pay the ultimate price in the line of duty. We assure them of our prayers and support."

Though the military remained quiet on the death toll, the Nation confirmed that KDF tactical units finally entered El-Adde and collected bodies of soldiers, some at the destroyed camp and others on roads.

Only four caskets were received by Chief of Defence Forces Samsom Mwathethe at Wilson Airport on Monday but the Nation established many other bodies were flown to Moi Airbase, Eastleigh.

Gen Mwathethe had on Sunday said some soldiers were taken hostage but the announcement was not followed by details of the number being held, their identities or ranks.

Information from news outlets in Somalia posted audio messages of two "hostages" pleading with the government to secure their release.

The latest communication from Gen Mwathethe said: "We embarked on a search, rescue and recovery operation as a priority. However, this is a delicate operation as we have information to the effect that some soldiers are being used as human shields."

A source conversant with military operations said the number of missing soldiers should be known because a camp commander usually conducts a roll call twice every day and a signal relayed to the command centre in Nairobi.

The source added that the last such signal must have been sent to Nairobi on Thursday evening.

Besides finding bodies, tactical units that involved the special forces were under instruction to rescue captives and soldiers who could be hiding in bushes.

The ministry is yet to release results of the rescue operation.

At the same time, social media site Twitter has suspended an account that Al-Shabaab was using to spread propaganda about the attack.

More on This

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There were 240 Kenya Defence Force (KDF) in El Adde camp at the time of the attack by al Shabaab on Sunday, according to… Read more »

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