How KDF fought 10-hour battle to save ill-fated camp
NAIROBI: Gallant survivors of the terror attack on Kenya Defence Forces camp in Somalia have pieced together a blowby-blow account of Friday’s deadly dawn attack. The 10-hour mission by the Al Shabaab terrorists – that started at the crack of dawn and was only degraded after 2pm – was fronted by three rows of suicide bombers, Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices and hardened Al Shabaab foot soldiers, which made it extremely difficult for the Kenyan peacekeepers to ward off the ambush.
The attack was carried out in three waves (a military term used to describe formation of troops) using heavy gunfire that breached one side of Kenyan camp, leaving dozens of soldiers dead and several others injured.
The militia looted ammunition including assets such as military vehicles after the bloody attack mission at El Adde KDF camp, according to details contained in a document entitled ‘The Elade Truth’ seen by The Standard.
The KDF soldiers, who survived the three successive suicide bomb attacks and blasts packed inside VBIEDs to tell their story, gallantly fought back to hold ground and save themselves and colleagues.
FIRST WAVE OF ATTACK
The first attack was touched off inside the Somali National Army camp, which is side by side with the Kenyan camp at 4am on Friday.
“It was followed by Armoured Personnel Carrier with an estimated 10-15 suicide bombers on board. The suicide bombers disembarked running towards the KDF trenches” and blew themselves up, the report said.
The vehicles used are believed to have been looted from previous attacks on Uganda and Burundi forces in Somalia.
Kenya’s military intelligence described the brutal force used on Kenyan troops as similar to those witnessed in Paris, Libya and Westgate massacres.
As the troops reacted and re-organised to repulse the enemy after the attack, a second VBIED mounted with a heavy machine-gun made its way into the KDF side driving fast. It drove through amid resistance and heavy gun fire from KDF troops. It later detonated inside the KDF camp with devastating consequences.
SECOND WAVE OF ATTACK
The second VBIED was followed by two Land Cruisers fitted with a machine guns and commonly known in military language as ‘technicals’, each with suicide bombers said to have had rifles, according to the report.
“They fired as it got closer to the troops position and then detonated themselves. There were KDF soldiers who were still holding their defence positions and fought back to hold ground.
THIRD WAVE OF ATTACK
The third wave of attack was mounted by an estimated 70-100 terrorists who gained entry into the camp in a lorry.
“As some of them fired, others began picking their injured and the killed colleagues loading them in the truck,” the report says.
After an hour of heavy fighting, another group of 100 militants arrived on foot and appeared to be on a looting mission from the eastern side of the camp.
According to the report, two KDF platoons bravely held fort for about 10 hours as the reinforcement from the elite soldiers arrived in a bid to secure the besieged Kenyan camp.
Meanwhile, military headquarters yesterday appeared to confirm that the KDF camp was on a high alert of the impending attack following intelligence reports, but the force that met the Kenyan soldiers was described as ‘unstoppable’.
The report, however, did not clarify the number of Kenyan casualties and assets lost, leaving the question begging as to how many Kenyan soldiers were felled and what assets were lost.
The report, however, puts the number of Al Shabaab terrorists killed at an estimated 65-76.
CONSPIRACY OF THE LOCALS
KDF is also investigating circumstances in which locals appeared to have conspired with Al Shabaab.
“The locals appeared to thank Al Shabaab for assisting them,” the report seen by The Standard says in part. The region has been resisting KDF operations based on clan rivalry between the Marehan and the Ogaden.
Since 2pm on Friday when elite soldiers arrived in El Adde and reinforced the Kenyan position held by the two platoons, the Kenyan military has been on a search, rescue and recovery mission.
El Adde remains a dangerous area for KDF troops having faced resistance for some time.
In its operations, KDF launched air strikes and hit an Al Shabaab position in El Gaduud some 30km east of El Adde, believed to be a hideout for the terror gang and where some looted ammunition were hidden.