KDF soldiers vow to protect Somalis from Al-Shabaab raids
NAIROBI, Kenya - The Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] will protect innocent civilians from frequent Al-Shabaab raids in Somalia, African Union Mission said, a move geared towards preventing further attacks across the war-torn nation.
Speaking in Dhobley during Madaraka Day on Monday, Sector-II Commander Brig. Paul Njema said the day reminds the troops of challenges Kenya has faced before and motivates the troops in the fight against Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant group.
Madaraka Day is celebrated June 1st every year and serves as a commemoration for Kenya's self-rule. The East African nation got independence from Britain on 1st June 1963, and Monday was the 57th edition.
KDF, Njema added, will ensure the militants are crushed besides implementing the AMISOM mandate which is anchored on peacekeeping and protection of civilians from armed groups.
"This special day reminds us not just of the difficult past Kenya has faced as a country but also to remain steadfast in the fight against Al Shabaab as we implement the AMISOM mandate," Njema told reporters.
Kenya has deployed close to 3500 soldiers stationed mainly in Sector II and VI within Jubaland state. The troops serve under Lt. General Tigabu Yilma, an Ethiopian who was appointed Force Commander in 2018. AMISOM troops are set to leave Somalia in 2021.
Throughout their stay in Somalia since 2011, KDF troops, who are rotated annually, have managed to liberate several towns among them Dhobley, Afmadow and Kismayo, the regional administrative capital of Jubaland state.
But the troops have also suffered casualties at the hands of Al-Shabaab. Perhaps the most memorable one was in 2016 and 2017 when several troops were killed in El-Adde and Kulbiyow army bases respectively. It was the worst single loss for KDF in foreign soil.
Since then, the troops have heightened operations against the militants, gaining large swathes of rural southern Somalia. For instance, the troops foiled a major attack against Jubaland regional forces a fortnight ago at Bilis Qooqani, where several Al-Shabaab militants were killed.
Last week, the KDF troops also repulsed another attack targeting Jubaland troops at Dhobley, not far from where Monday's function was done. The KDF team has also handed over a Forward Operating Base to Somali National Army [SNA] in Dhobley.
On the Coronavirus pandemic, Brig. Njema said the KDF troops shall continue helping rural communities to fight the disease through the basic implementation of various regulations such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.
"This also comes at a time when the region is faced with a global challenge of COVID19 pandemic and this calls for our concerted efforts in sticking with the guidelines given to contain the spread of the disease," he added.
For the better part of the weekend, KDF camped at Jubaland State House where it carried out fumigation. The exercise was meant to reduce the chances of COVID-19 infections through disinfecting open surfaces.
Dubbed operation JoojiKorona, the exercise is set to be carried out in various towns within Jubaland in the coming weeks. The state, whose leader is Ahmed Madobe, has so far recorded a total of 136 COVID-19 cases.
Across Somalia, a total of 2023 cases have so far been recorded. Of these cases, 361 have recovered while 79 have since died according to the data obtained from the ministry of health.