Several soldiers still stranded in the bush

Private Muganda says he was with an injured colleague and could not abandon him in bush.

Monday January 18 2016

Two of the four injured soldiers airlifted to Nairobi in an ambulance at Wilson Airport on January 17, 2016. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Two of the four injured soldiers airlifted to Nairobi in an ambulance at Wilson Airport on January 17, 2016. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANGIRA ZADOCK
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An unknown number of soldiers escaped from the El-Adde camp during the Friday morning Al-Shabaab attack.

Private Joseph Muganda, a survivor who was rescued from his hideout, had only served in Somali for two weeks.

During the attack, Private Muganda managed to escape from the El-Adde camp together with a colleague who had been injured in both legs. Their firearms and mobile phones were not stolen.

The soldier tried calling his seniors and colleagues in Nairobi in vain. He also tried to contact his family in Busia.

The last call he made to Nairobi was around 11am, two hours before he was located and rescued.

RESCUED

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Colonel David Obonyo said the two soldiers were rescued a few kilometres from the camp and that they are in a stable condition.

They were among the four soldiers who escaped and moved towards the Kenyan border. At least 15 others are said to be stranded in the bush.

The soldiers, mainly from the Eldoret-based 9KR battalion, had only been there for two weeks.

The two were taken to another KDF camp for first aid and counselling before they were brought back to Nairobi.

Private Muganda had told his relatives that his colleague was injured and he could not leave him until they were rescued.

Though they could see military planes overflying the area, they could not signal them. The two soldiers survived without food or water until they were rescued.

Meanwhile, the bodies of soldiers killed in Somalia remained at the scene of the attack for the third day on Sunday after the KDF aircraft deployed for the search mission failed to land at the camp.

At least 12 soldiers, including the camp commander, a major, were captured alive by the militants and this complicated the search-and-rescue operation.

“This is a delicate operation as we have information that some soldiers are being used as human shields, and we will not allow any further casualties,” the Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe said on Sunday.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Last evening, many questions remained unanswered about the Friday dawn attack, especially the exact number of soldiers killed.

Kenyans have been left to speculate on the death toll, relying mostly on Al-Shabaab propaganda outlets.

A source on Sunday told the Nation that two aircraft that left Kenya on Saturday for Somalia were reported to have carried over 100 body bags but did not land as it was deemed to be very risky.

It is also not clear whether the soldiers had information about the well-planned attack by the Saleh al-Nabhani battalion that caught them off guard.

The attackers went past two checkpoints unnoticed to the camp, where most of the soldiers are said to have been sleeping.

The KDF personnel did not have the support of the locals, who are said to have fled the area a few hours before the attack.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that some soldiers had left the camp before the attack and had not been located.

It is also not clear whether they had in place an alert sentry, since the attackers are said to have gone through two checkpoints before accessing the middle of the camp.

“The possible times of attack are the wee hours of the morning, during lunch time and in the evening when soldiers tend to relax. The Al-Shabaab could have executed the attack at dawn when the soldiers were less vigilant,” said a senior security official who sought anonymity.

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