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Video Surfaces of Brutal Assault on Kenyan Peacekeepers in Somalia

Warning: graphic video and imagery below.

A couple of weeks ago al-Shabaab’s media wing, al-Katāi’b Media, released an hours-long video purportedly of a surprise attack on Kenyan peacekeepers in Somalia that took place in January, 2016. The video was made by al-Shabaab militants during a dawn attack on the Kenyan’s deployed in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The unit had recently taken up at Kenya Defence Forces El Adde Base located in the Gedo region of Somalia.

Although the attack occurred last January, a confirmed number of Kenyan casualties has not been released. Casualties are estimated to be in the scores, and likely well over a hundred. One KDF spokesman reported DNA samples were taken from 143 bodies at the scene, most of which were burned beyond recognition.

Two versions of the video were seen on the internet in the past few weeks. The one you see below appears to be an edited version of the longer original footage, which is no longer easily located online. The shortened 23 minute does little to blunt the brutality of the the longer video. Both depict fighting, pursuit of fleeing survivors and the execution of captured and wounded KDF soldiers. The longer video just shows more it.  It is unknown whether attackers were Jaysh al-Usra, (Army of Hardship), the al-Shabaab Amniyat network or both.

Attack on El Adde 5

Attack_on_KDF El Adde_6

The KDF soldiers were part of the 9th Kenyan Rifles, an infantry battalion that was only weeks into their deployment. These elements arrived in Somalia en masse, rather than sequentially by company or platoon and without the benefit of a “left seat – right seat” familiarization process conducted with an outgoing unit.

Kenyan soldiers have been in Somalia since October 2011, when they launched Operation Linda Nchi (Protect the Country) independent of the African Union and were formally integrated into AMISOM’s order of battle the following February.

Warning: Graphic Footage, NSFW (Violence)

More on the Attack on KDF El Adde

The Chief of Kenyan Defense Forces, General Samson Mwathe, held a press conference shortly after the attack, describing events and the immediate response. This and other reports indicate the attack was initiated by three vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonations (VBIED).  Some analysts, however, believe there was only one VBIED, suggesting images of the claimed multiple car bombs are actually pictures of the same blast filmed from different perspectives.

A preparatory attack like this is not a new idea; a VBIED was used last year in the Al-Shabaab assault on a Ugandan AMISOM base in Janaale and VBIEDs have been used on US troops in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

In this attack, the VBIEDs were followed by waves of RPG- and AK-armed al-Shabaab fighters supported by technicals bearing crew-served weapons and recoilless rifles. The KDF response was disorganized and ineffective, due in no small part to the surprise, shock and violence of the attack and casualties were heavy — though many who’ve watched the footage argue that a significant portion of the casualties al-Shabaab claims to have inflicted were in fact from the VBIED.

There’s speculation that other casualties were inflicted as the Kenyan infantrymen left their own cantonment to assist collocated elements of the Somali National Army, which the KDF believed to be under attack. Some reports suggest a false or weak diversionary attack was conducted on the SNA cantonment area to draw KDF troops into the open. The Somali Army camp was reportedly vacant, the SNA soldiers possibly having been warned of the impending assault.

News of the attack apparently did not reach higher KDF headquarters for at least an hour and a half. According to KDF General Samson Mwathethe this is likely because the attackers destroyed communications systems, though the nature of the KDF El Adde’s organic commo capability was not clear. He further advised that AMISOM was unable to assist Kenyan troops under attack at El Adde, so the KDF deployed air assets to help regain control of the region — Kenya owns the only combat aircraft immediately available to the AMISOM mission. They discovered attackers had dispersed into the bush and surrounding villages, and that anti-aircraft weapons were emplaced. These weapons prevented immediate reinforcement of the area by air, forcing a ground response that took several days to completely retake and secure the area.

Attack on El Adde 4

The aftermath — relief forces of the KDF secure El Adde 4 days after the attack. The camp and vehicles are still burning.

The bloated condition of some of the casualties, seeming lack of urgency of the assaulting elements, and the complete lack of return fire lead some analysts to believe much of the filming was actually done the morning after the attack, then combined with footage of the actual assault to increase the video’s propaganda value. Regardless of the video’s veracity, it is the worst attack on any AMISOM contingent since the AU mission began, and an indisputable record of extreme barbarism.

This wasn’t the first attack on AMISOM personel in Somalia, but it’s been the worst. A large number of African Union peacekeepers from Uganda were killed in September 2015, and dozens from Burundi the preceding June.

In addition to conducting counter-insurgency and stabilization operations, “capacity building” of the SNA, and logistical support for humanitarian efforts supporting Somali’s internal refugee,  KDF and other military peacekeepers support AMISOM police elements and provide medical assistance at places like Dhobley Hospital and forward locations in other districts. In addition to Kenyan and Ugandan elements, the AMISOM mission has deployed military personnel from Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia. Police and constabulary elements hail from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone, all working in one or more of six sectors.

Predictably, news of the attack resulted in calls for the withdrawal of Kenyan peacekeepers by parts of the Kenyan public and media, but the president has refused these demands.

Oddly, the AMISOM website has published neither statement nor news about the attack.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the fallen soldiers who are operating under appalling equipment, logistical and leadership conditions.

More here in the videos below.

Original video on Live Leak.

 

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