KDF commander visits troops in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The commander of Kenya Army Lt. General Peter Njiru visited Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] serving in Somalia, in the middle of the ongoing offensive against Al-Shabaab militants, with the soldiers preparing for the Operation Black Lion Mission, which is set to kick off soon.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced the mission months ago but it is yet to start due to combing exercise within HirShabelle and Galmadug states in Somalia. The exercise as at stabilizing towns and villages that were liberated in the first phase of operations against the group.
Njiru, who was promoted recently, praised the KDF troops on their roles of opening supply routes in Somalia besides protecting civilians from the Al-Shabaab menace. He stressed handing over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army.
"Kenya Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Peter Njiru, on Monday visited ATMIS KDF troops at the New Airport Forward Operating Base [FOB] in Kismayo. He was received by the ATMIS Sector 6 Commander, Brig. Luka Kutto and Sector 2 Commander Brig. William Kamoiro," the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] reported.
"Lt. Gen. Njiru praised the troops for their commitment to Somalia's security and stability and stressed the need for a smooth handover of security responsibilities to the Somali Security Forces. He also visited Abdale Birole, Old Port, and Sea Port FOBs."
His trip comes at the time ATMIS is drawing down its military in the Horn of Africa nation, with already 2,000 leaving in June 2023. An additional 3,000 soldiers selected from Troops Contributing Countries are set to leave by the end of this month as ATMIS pushes to comply with the Somali Transition Plan.
There were reports that Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti had agreed to dispatch a non-ATMIS contingent to Somalia to help in the Operation Black Lion Mission, but to date, none of these countries have yet to confirm. The ATMIS soldiers are paid by the African Union which gets assistance from multilateral partners such as European Union and United Nations.
KDF has been staying in Somalia for the last 12 years where they first attacked as Operation Linda Nchi but would later be integrated into ATMIS. The soldiers are particularly credited for liberating Kismayo, a once strategic port city controlled by Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia.