AFRICANGLOBE – Kenyan soldiers and the Al-Shabaab militia are using locals in a bid to emerge victorious in the military operation in Somalia.
The Kenyan troops are using humanitarian assistance to endear the Somalis as they gather intelligence on the Al-Shabaab while the terror group is using the locals as human shields.
During the Saturday’s Operation Linda Nchi briefing, it emerged that the Kenyan soldiers are gathering information on the Al-Shabaab from the locals as they feed them to avert a humanitarian crisis.
Speaking at the briefing, military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said that they were receiving information on the whereabouts of the militants from the locals as they interacted with them. He also said that they had information that the militants were using the locals as human shields as well as weapon carriers.
While defending the action by the army to feed the locals, Col Oguna dismissed claims by NGOs that the operation had interfered with humanitarian work worsening the crisis in the Horn of Africa country.
“The needs of the local people are actually key as compared to the actual combat. Modern warfare has to also include humanitarian operations even as the soldiers pursue the militants,” said Col Oguna.
He indicated that there are Kenyans among the Al-Shabaab militants who have been killed, injured or arrested. He, however, said that the Kenyan forces are not profiling those arrested for their nationalities but said that there are “foreigners” among those captured.
Col Oguna said that the training camps that have been taken out in the Southern region have the highest number of foreigners who have been recruited from Kenya and other neighbouring countries.
He added that the militants have been moving from the camps that have been taken out and establishing new ones but the locals have been helping the Kenyan forces identify them.
Col Oguna also revealed that a committee had been formed to probe an incident in which fishermen thought to be Kenyans were killed in the Indian Ocean by the Kenya Defence Forces. He said that the findings from the investigations will be made public.
“We are very sorry about the incident if indeed those killed were Kenyans. But we also have to ask ourselves that if they were Kenyans, why they refused to surrender when asked to. All law abiding citizens should support the government as security is not just for the police and the army,” said Col Oguna.
Speaking at the same briefing, Deputy Director at Foreign affairs division in charge of the Horn of Africa Lindsay Kipteness said that Kenya had embarked on a diplomatic offensive to seek more international support for the operation.
He said that the Inter-governmental Authority on Development Head of States summit held in Addis Ababa on Friday had backed the operation and Kenya would now use the body’s organs to solicit more support from the international community.
“The presidents who spoke at the summit also expressed their understanding and support for the Kenyan operation. Kenya also said it was willing to join Amisom forces as long as the mandate is changed to capture the current ongoings and allow the forces to move on the offensive,” Mr Kipteness said.
According to Col Oguna, in the last week, the Kenyan forces have killed at least 15 Al-Shabaab operatives and injured others in the offensive especially in the south.
He added that since the operation started, KDF has lost four soldiers through enemy fire, five others died in a helicopter crash at the beginning of the operation and 11 soldiers are currently in hospital.
Col Oguna also confirmed that one soldier had died during the Mandera grenade on Thursday where a KDF lorry drove over a landmine and was blown up. (READ: Kenyan soldier dies in Mandera landmine explosion)
He added that the four other soldiers who were injured during the incident are now at the Forces Memorial Hospital.