In Summary
  • A KDF statement put the number at nine with 70 Al-Shabaab militants killed while the terror group’s propaganda messages claimed at least 50 Kenyan soldiers had been killed.
  • It took hours for a rescue team from Hulugho Camp, at least 20 km away, to reach their comrades as the militants had planted explosives on various routes.
  • By the time air support arrived shortly before noon, the quick response teams from nearby camps had managed to repulse the attackers.

Fresh details have emerged of how Kenyan soldiers fought gallantly for at least six hours on Friday to ward off a deadly attack from hundreds of Al-Shabaab militants during a deadly dawn attack at a base in Kulbiyow, Somalia.

This came as top military brass were said to have been in a crisis meeting Saturday.

KDF Spokesman Lt-Col Paul Njuguna confirmed the bodies of the dead soldiers had been flown to Nairobi while the injured were receiving treatment at the Forces Memorial Hospital.

“The next of kin of the fallen heroes as well as the injured soldiers were notified and plans to support them were established in line with the Defence Forces Standing Orders,” a statement sent last night said.

On Saturday, Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and senior military officers had visited the Defence Memorial Hospital to comfort the recuperating soldiers as well as address the next of kin of the dead soldiers.

Two senior KDF commanders, the General Officer in charge of Eastern command Major-General Benjamin Biwott, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) Sector 2 commander Brigadier William Shume, were said to have visited the Kulbiyow camp to boost the morale of the Kenyan troops.

However, it remained unclear how many KDF soldiers, operating under Amisom, died in the attack.

A KDF statement put the number at nine with 70 Al-Shabaab militants killed while the terror group’s propaganda messages claimed at least 50 Kenyan soldiers had been killed.

Information obtained by the Sunday Nation from multiple military sources, who spoke in confidence, paints a bloody picture.

Al-Shabaab first targeted the camp using two vehicles filled with explosives and driven by suicide bombers at almost 5am – using tactics similar to those applied during the El-Adde attack in January last year. 

These suicide explosions were followed by hordes of attackers who were repulsed by the soldiers mostly drawn from the Mombasa-based 15KR Infantry Battalion.    

ARRIVAL OF BODIES
And when it appeared the militants were almost overrunning the camp, KDF reached out for help from their superiors in Nairobi.

It took hours for a rescue team from Hulugho Camp, at least 20 km away, to reach their comrades as the militants had planted explosives on various routes.

All this time, the gallant soldiers, numbering just about 120, fought tooth and nail to keep the attackers at bay despite being outnumbered while waiting for reinforcements.

At some point, sources say, the besieged KDF soldiers and their counterparts from the Somalia Army tactically withdrew from the camp in order to reduce the number of casualties.

A distress signal was also sent to Boni Forest and Manda camps on the Kenyan side but the response teams had to abandon their vehicles at some point and walk on foot to Kulbiyow due to landmines on the routes leading to the camp under attack.

By the time air support arrived shortly before noon, the quick response teams from nearby camps had managed to repulse the attackers.

Initially, KDF admitted its soldiers had been pinned down.

At the end of the day, it reported that at least 70 Al-Shaabab militants were killed.

Page 1 of 2