The Star (Nairobi)
By Dominic Wabala, 10 October 2012
Photo: Stuart Price/UNKenya Defence Forces have killed over 3,000 al Shabaab militia during combat since October last year when they entered war ravaged Somalia in pursuit of the al Qaeda linked insurgents.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji yesterday revealed that over 3,000 fighters had been killed and assorted weapons and gun mounted vehicles destroyed or captured during the year long operation.
KDF has lost 22 soldiers and officers, as well as a helicopter during the one year it has been in Somalia. It will mark its first anniversary in Somalia on Sunday, October 14.
"It is worth mentioning that to be a peacekeeper is a sacrifice a soldier has to make on behalf of the international community, his country and the military. During this operation, the enemy has lost over 3,000 militants not to mention the assorted arms and technicals (vehicles) that have been captured," Haji said.
He was speaking during a ceremony by Brand Kenya where school children around the country presented 5,000 patriotic and encouragement letters and messages of goodwill to KDF soldiers fighting in Somalia.
President Kibaki yesterday called for the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the al Shabaab insurgents surrendering to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) forces.
At the same time President Kibaki reassured the Somalia leadership and its citizens that Kenya has no ulterior motive but its ultimate desire is to see Somalia return to peace and stability.
"In carrying out the stabilization efforts, I would wish to assure your Excellency that Kenya has no other agenda and its only desire is to see Somalia return to peace and stability," said the President.
He called for extension of KDF's Amisom mandate in Somalia that expires at the end of this month. Haji yesterday thanked the Chief of General Staff General Julius Karangi for his leadership which he said had allowed KDF to make an unparalleled historic achievement in contemporary African military.
Haji said that by defeating al Shabaab, KDF has proved to the world that the Kenyan military is a professional outfit with the ability to keep peace in the region and the world.
"The achievement of the KDF, by defeating an al Qaeda-linked militant outfit in Kismayu is no mean achievement. We have indeed proved to the world our professional skill and ability. KDF have made us proud and proved to the the world that Kenya continues to flex her muscles as a regional military worth its profession," the Defence minister said.
Haji did not talk about an incident on 24 October in which a KDF soldier is reported to have opened fire on a group of unarmed Somali civilians 50 kilometres from the port city of Kismayu. KDF at the time condemned the incident and said the soldier had been arrested and would be prosecuted.
Haji yesterday warned that while al Shabaab is no longer in control of southern Somalia, the group is still dangerous because it has ceased being a viable political alternative to the Somalia government but is moving back to to being a local insurgency.
"Amisom will have to adapt its tactics to respond to this new change in battle space and it will have to be more effective at protecting crucial trade routes from kidnappers and bandits. Our government and the people of Kenya have sacrificed their lives and resources to liberate Somalia fro al Shabaab and we assure the people of Somalia we shall stand with them at all times," Haji said.
He appealed to Somali nationals to unite and consolidate on on the gains made in the peaceful elections of MPs, Speaker and President and bring lasting peace to the war torn country.
Chief of General Staff Gen Julius Karangi said that Kenya has liberated over 200,000 square kilometres of Somalia that had previously been under the control of Al Shabaab and destroyed their structures.
He said that KDF has now started offering humanitarian aid to suffering population in Somalia and have so far drilled two boreholes in Badhadhe and Gerille and rehabilitated two others in Jana Cabdalla apart from offering medical assistance.
"We have destroyed their facilities and captured their economic facilities like money transfer in Afmadhow which transacted over 100,000 US dollars in a month.
KDF is not an occupations force. It was only interested in routing out al Shabaab who were masquerading as a religious group. They had taken us for granted and took advantage to attack us," the CDF said.