Panic grips Somalia after Kenya Defense Forces abandon command centre signalling surrender and retreat may be in the cards

A file photo of KDF soldier on a mission
  • The KDF operated bases in Bardera, Busar and El Adde, all of which it has since abandoned.
  • On Tuesday morning, a contingent of Kenya Defense Forces made the final withdrawal from Busar, KDF’s command centre in the northern sector of Jubaland
  • The town that was liberated in the first 100 days of Kenya's entry into Somalia.

On Tuesday morning, a contingent of Kenya Defense Forces made the final withdrawal from a command centre in Somalia signalling surrender and retreat, once a taboo word in the security circles may be in the cards.

Leaders in Somalia are now questioning the recent abandonment of a military base in the country by the Kenyan soldiers, saying the move will expose the country to Al-Shabaab threats.

Our people spotted the troops heading towards the Somali border. They destroyed their military base before leaving,” a senior politician from Gedo, who requested not to be named for fear of reprisals by both KDF and Somali security forces, told the Nation, a local daily.

Mr Aw Hirsi, the Minister for Planning and International Cooperation in Jubaland, told the Nation that the withdrawal had left the people uncertain as to whether the departure of the Kenyans could secure the region lasting peace and tranquillity, or whether it could further land their weary souls into the hands of Al-Shabaab militants.

The leaders say Kenyan troops started withdrawing from Somalia after moving out of Busar, KDF’s command centre in the northern sector of Jubaland, a town that was liberated in the first 100 days of their entry into Somalia.

Busar, which is located in the Gedo region is where KDF recorded their greatest loss in history during the El Adde attack in which about 200 soldiers died.

The KDF operated bases in Bardera, Busar and El Adde, all of which it has since abandoned. It also had forward operating bases FOBs in Taraka and Fafadun, from which it also withdrew.

The Kenyan troops withdrew from Bardera in September 2017, and it fell back into the hands of Al-Shabaab. The departure came just five days after it abandoned its base in Bardera.

On Tuesday, Department of Defence Spokesperson Bogita Ongeri and KDF spokesperson Paul Njoroge declined to respond to the Nation's queries on what necessitated the movement of KDF troops towards the border.

Kenya has in the past, however, maintained a ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ attitude about Somalia and insisted it will only pull out of the country once peace has been restored.

It is not lost too that the ‘retreat’ comes in the wake of renewed animosity between Kenya and Somalia over a maritime dispute at the Indian Ocean which saw the two countries recalled their respective ambassadors.

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