Fifty six soldiers killed in Somalia in the recent past were yesterday feted at an elaborate ceremony in Mombasa’s Kenya Navy base.
The fete attended by top officials in the military and presided over by Defense Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo also marked five years since Operation Linda Nchi was launched.
The names of the 56 fallen soldiers were engraved on a memorial stone where current and retired top military commanders laid wreaths.
But those killed during the El Ade carnage on January 15 in Somalia, this year were not mentioned during the event. Until yesterday, Kenyan authorities had never provided any official figures of the number of soldiers killed in combat in Somalia.
Omamo termed Operation Linda Nchi as “success” and added that Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) will not leave Somali until it eliminates all terror threats against Kenya.
Omamo disclosed that 6,000 Kenyan soldiers are in active combat in Somali and Southern Sudan.
Chief of Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe said additional troops will be deployed along the Kenya Somali border.
“Additional deployment to secure our border with Somali from Mandera to Lamu will continue to be undertaken. Static and mobile road blocks and check point will continue to be mounted to prevent the movement of Al Shabaab, ISIS and other terror groups into our country,” said Mwathethe.
He went on:”…the newly proposed border command will play a major role in securing our porous border with Somali.”
In January 2012, KDF was integrated into the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) which include soldiers from other nations like Uganda and Ethiopia.
It emerged yesterday that Kenya suffered minimal causality in the pre El Ade period if the number of the names embossed on the memorial stone in Mtongwe is anything to go by.
The names embossed on the memorial stone in Mtongwe comprise all soldiers from the Kenya Army, Kenya Navy and Kenya Air force who have died since the start of Operation Linda Nchi begun on October 14, 2011.
At the ceremony, former Chief of General Staff, Dr Julius Karangi and General rtd Mahmoud Mohamed were also feted for their service in the military.
“Our soldiers have achieved significant success since they entered Somali. They have so far liberated 20 towns and destroyed several al Shabaab camps,” said Omamo.
Despite the high risk, the CS disclosed that KDF still remain a highly attractive job to the youth.
“The number of youths registering to join the KDF still remains very high which shows that our young people ready and willing to serve our country,” said Omamo.
Earlier, Omamo received several vehicles and other assorted supplies donated by the Chinese government to the African Union Mission to Somalia.
The vehicles were imported in October 2, 2013 but have been lying at a warehouse in Mombasa over a standoff over the taxes.