Somalia, Mogadishu: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud released the figures during a speech on a national television station, although Kenya’s government has already rejected the figure. Mohamud told Somali Cable TV, a privately owned station, “When about 200 soldiers who came to help your country are killed in one morning, it is not something trivial”. The interview was posted on YouTube on Thursday.
Al Shabaab reportedly killed as many as 200 soldiers in an attack on a Kenyan military camp in Somalia by al-Shabaab Islamists last month, according to the latest death toll from the Somali government that would make it the deadliest assault carried out by the militants in their history. Kenyan authorities have refused to give a death toll following the January 15 raid, which targeted troops working under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) near the southern Somali town of El Adde. Al-Shabaab later distributed photos purporting to show the bodies of dozens of Kenyan soldiers, many apparently shot in the head.
Mohamud said during the interview, “We have been winning for years and months but that el-Adde battle, we were defeated. Yes, in war, sometimes something that you do not like happens to you”. Kenya sent soldiers into Somalia in 2011 after raids in the border region and kidnappings that threatened the tourism industry in the region’s biggest economy and wider regional destabilisation. It later joined the AMISOM operation.
The militants have waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2006, expanding their operations across the border after the 2011 mission began. Al-Shabaab’s attacks in Kenya have included a raid by gunmen on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in 2013 and a university in Garissa in 2015. Hundreds of people have been killed in al-Shabaab attacks in the past two years. Kenya Defence Forces spokesman, Colonel David Obonyo, denied the number given by the Somali president and questioned the source of the information. He told, “It is not true. This information never came from us or anyone in the government of Kenya”.