Details of the devastating raid by Kenyan troops against Al-Shabaab in Somalia in which the terrorist group’s deputy leader was killed can be revealed Monday.
Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame was Al-Shabaab’s deputy emir, placing him as the second in command and head of its intelligence wing, the Amniyaat.
He was killed alongside 52 other terrorists, including a dozen middle-level commanders.
The raid happened on February 8, but details of the attack at an Al-Shabaab base between Buale and Sukow were delayed to allow for forensic confirmation to ascertain its leader was among those killed.
Special Forces of the Kenya Defence Forces were deployed to the area in advance and took positions around the camp.
They lay in wait for hours while hiding in the bush before the Air Force was called in to begin the operation with airstrikes.
The airstrikes scattered the fighters who survived the bombs. But the fleeing terrorists were shot and killed by the camouflaged snipers.
Karate had survived the airstrike and his body guards were spiriting him away in a vehicle, but he was felled by sniper bullets.
The small team of special forces then retreated from the area within minutes and are already engaged in training, ready for the next raid.
This is a tactic KDF has adopted since the attack at its base in El-Adde, Gedo region, in which there were massive casualties on both sides.
After the operation, informers were sent to the area to carry out battle damage assessment and after days of spying, confirmed that Karate was among the fighters killed.
KDF was back at it again on February 18. Ground troops raided an Al-Shabaab camp in Sidimo, killing 20 other terrorists, among them explosives expert Maalim Sheriff.
They found 16 AK-47 rifles, six improvised explosives, two pistols, eight rocket propelled grenades and assorted ammunition.
There are several special forces teams scattered in Southern Somalia, where the African Union Mission In Somalia has assigned KDF to operate.
Special forces move in small teams of a handful of soldiers so that their movement is unnoticed by enemies.
The teams are in constant coded communication with the aerial teams, giving their exact coordinates, to avoid being hit during airstrikes.
The military delayed announcing the death of the commander until the information was corroborated on the ground.
Al-Shabaab fighters commonly use aliases to confuse those pursuing them.
Sustained operations have been ongoing since the attack at a KDF camp in El-Adde.
“Karate had gone to the camp to preside over the passing out of an estimated 80 Alamnyat recruits who had completed their training and were due for deployment to carry out terrorist attacks. It is confirmed that 42 recruits were killed and others sustained injuries,” said military spokesman David Obonyo.
Karate is believed to have played a key role in the El-Adde attack