Kenya: Kenya mounts major military offensive after AU base attack

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Kenyan military has mounted a major military offensive against the Al Shabaab in the Gedo region of Somalia in an effort to rescue and recover the bodies of an undisclosed number of soldiers killed during Friday’s attack at the El-Adde military base in Somalia, a top Kenyan army General said Sunday.

Gen. Samson Mwathethe, the Chief of General Staff, said the military was carrying out a major military operation and was able to “downgrade” the military capacity of the Al Shabaab.

“The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) priority was to downgrade the enemy in the last few hours of the attack. We have already downgraded the enemy,” Mwathethe told reporters after receiving four survivors of Friday's attack, flown to Nairobi from the battlefield.

The Al Shabaab stormed the Al Adde military base on Friday, using three vehicles full of explosives. The militants then gained entry into the military base by shooting their way inside using machine guns.

During the attack, several Kenyan soldiers were believed to have been caught unaware. The Al Shabaab has claimed it also seized almost a dozen Kenyan soldiers as prisoners.

On Sunday, the soldiers seized alive were heard on a pro-Al Shabaab radio station, Radio Andalus, pleading with the Kenyan government to pull out from Somalia.

Gen. Mwathethe said the military search and rescue operation was delicate and was being carried out in a careful manner to avoid any further casualties.

It remains unclear how many soldiers were killed during the Al Shabaab offensive at the camp.

“Al Shabaab is now evolving and competing for space.  Nonetheless, this does not undermine our operational capability. Our resolve to combat terrorism remains. As we speak, our troops are engaging the terrorists. We must desist from divulging details that might compromise operational security.  We will keep Kenyans updated as the events unfold,” Gen. Mwathethe said.

Kenyan Defense Minister Raychelle Omamo said the military search and rescue operation would continue until all the soldiers are brought home, without stating whether there could have been Kenyan troops held hostage by the Al Shabaab.

“We must remain steady. We must remain unbowed in the face of this attack. We are determined to bring our soldiers home,” Omamo told reporters in Nairobi Sunday.

Local media reports quoted Gen. Mwathethe as saying the Al Shabaab was using some of the Kenyan soldiers they held hostage as human shields against the Kenyan military’s search and rescue operation.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 17Jan2016  

17 january 2016 16:39:05




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