Friday, January 15 was a dark day for KDF soldiers who suffered great losses at the hands of Al-Shabaab militants who attacked their base in El-Adde, Gedo Somalia killing an unspecified number of KDF members. Kenyans took to social media to show their solidarity with KDF and the family members of the fallen under the hash tags #IStandWithKDF and #63IsNotJustANumber after reports by the international media that the militia group claimed that it had killed 63 soldiers.
Thousands of messages went out to acknowledge the efforts and the sacrifice of the soldiers including President Uhuru Kenyatta’s words of condolences and salutation of their patriotism and bravery. Media personalities took to their fan pages to do the same with poignant messages like the one posted by Mwalimu King’ang’i that read: “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of every KDF soldier who died protecting it!”
However not all messages were in the same line as some Kenyans took the time to criticize the government’s handling of the issue such as withholding information and even questioning KDF’s presence in Somalia stating that they should be recalled. Others questioned the strategy of the Department of Defense as well as management of the base’s security.
Following the attacks military planes conducted major air strikes against Al-Shabaab while tactical units used heavily armored vehicles to hit the terrorists’ camps on the ground. The counter attack was however described as a “delicate operation” according to the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Samsom Mwathethe. This is mainly because military intelligence believes that there are several kanyan soldiers being held captive. Besides the annihilation of Al-Shabaab bases, rescue and search missions have been set up to find missing or injured Kenyan soldiers. The exact number of soldiers who were killed during the attack will be made public once the entire operation has ended.
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