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KDF troops leave Somalia as new contingent travel to Kismayo

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

KISMAYO, Somalia - Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] on Tuesday left Somalia after serving for one year in accordance with AMISOM norms, Department of Defense said, adding that a "new group was simultaneously deployed".

The rotation comes after the VIII troops completed their successful tour in Kismayo, the capital of the Jubaland state, KDF said.

Close to 3,000 troops from KDF are part of the AMISOM mission in Somalia where they man Sector 2 and 6 mainly in Kismayo and its environs.

KDF first joined AMISOM in 2012, a year after the country had deployed her military to Somalia to pursue Al-Shabaab militants.

Fresh troops deployed to Somalia

Col. Paul Kinduchimo, the commandant in charge, flagged off IX contingent at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for the next assignment in Somalia in the next one year.

He said: “It gives me great joy to be here to see you off. What you embark on is selfless service to the Nation and the Region."

The Commandant Defence Forces Pay and Clerical Training School, who coordinated the smooth transition, said: "I have no doubt they will do a good job".

He congratulated them for serving diligently towards the realization of peace in Somalia and wished them a safe rest and recuperation period.

KDF successes in Somalia

KDF troops have played an integral role in stabilization of Somalia, recording several gains in the process, among them the liberation of Kismayo.

Before the KDF incursion in Somalia, Kismayo city had been used as the commercial city for the terrorists and their associates for revenue generation.

Other areas that have been successfully seized from Al-Shabaab include Kulbiyow, Gedo, and Dhobley in Southern Somalia.

The troops have been key in the distribution of food and other humanitarian aid in the liberated regions, including coordinating social activities.

Some of the notable setbacks

But the KDF team has not after all had a smooth ride along the way, facing relentless battles with the incredibly neutralized militants.

In 2016, KDF suffered a major setback when the militants ran over the El Adde army base, killing close to 200 troops. It's so far the worst setback for the Kenyan team.

A year later, the Al-Qaida associated group attacked the Kulbiyow army base killing close to 70 Kenyan troops, although Nairobi has kept mum about it.

In a report published last year, close to 1,900 troops have fallen to Al-Shabaab attacks, noting that "so far Kenya bears the highest casualties".

But throughout 2018 and last year, most attempted attacks on Kenyan military bases were repulsed by the hawk-eyed troops.

AMISOM long term strategy

Tigabu Yilma, the AMISOM commander, has often visited troops in their Forward Operating Bases, with the most recent coming in November last year.

“This is a routine visit that the Force Commander conducts to troops in all sectors," David Obonyo, the AMISOM spokesman said.

Equally, outgoing KDF chief General Samson Mwathethe visited Kenyan troops in Somalia last month where he encouraged them for a diligent job.

Although there has been pressure at home to withdraw KDF troops, President Uhuru Kenyatta maintained that "we must defeat Al-Shabaab before thinking about it."

James Swan, the UN envoy to Somalia, also paid tributes to the Kenyan troops, lauding them for "phenomenal" contributions in rebuilding Somalia.