Al-Shabaab terrorist attack hits the military base of the Kenya Defence Forces situated in Somalia, afflicting over 80 personnel, the Kenyan government announced yesterday.
Only a fraction of these 80 affected soldiers have yet to be traced, as a search and rescue mission has been launched in the affected area.
Some of the soldiers are being held hostage by the militants. In the event of counter-attacks, the soldiers are being used as human shields.
The affected personnel are soldiers that had been deployed from Gilgil and Eldoret army bases, as replacement for the older team that had been on site earlier.
General Samson Mwathethe, Chief of Defence Forces, said earlier today that the attackers had launched the invasion using three vehicles borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), also known in layman’s words as Car-bomb or Truck-bomb. First, as he explained, the raiders had deployed the VBIED before following suit with suicide bombers who set the place ablaze. The vehicles breached two main roadblocks before they stopped inside the camp where they were detonated. After the explosions were set off, the terrorists moved in, setting the entire place on fire and taking as much prisoners as they could lay their hands on.
Speaking at a press conference today, she revealed that the soldiers affected by the attack “are a company size force.” In military terms, this equals about a hundred to two hundred and fifty soldiers, and is usually commanded by a captain.
On Friday morning, after receiving and tending to four wounded soldiers, injured in the attack by the terrorist group, Ms Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Defence, had the injured soldiers enplaned and flown to the Wilson Airport, Nairobi, in two private jets.
Ms Omamo, together with Gen Samson Mwathethe, Kenya Airforce Commander Samuel Thuita, and others, rescued two other soldiers apart from the previous four, and these were taken to the Basura camp of the Kenya Defence Force.
According to her, the soldiers being kept as prisoners by the terrorists are still at risk because of the volatility of the operation area. Also, the counterattack missions have been stifled because the KDF personnel in the hands of the Al-Shabaab militants are being used as human shield against bullets and other explosives, thwarting the counterattack efforts.
The soldiers are scattered, with several of them still running for their safety. A number of them are known to have shown up from the bushes, after frustrated attempts to contact their colleagues and families.
In an attempt to handle the crisis, counselling centres have been instituted in Gilgil barracks, in Eldoret, and at the Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi.