NAIROBI, Kenya – A contingent of Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] on Monday, at least five al-Shabaab militants in the unstable county of Mandera were killed, reports show, in a deadly clash that comes months after the group reduced attacks on Kenyan soil, perhaps due to the raging Coronavirus pandemic across the globe.
Sources familiar with the incident said al-Shabaab militants crossing over from Somalia were detaining a KDF convoy in the county, leading to a fierce gun battle. Eyewitnesses said the fight lasted for a few hours before the militants were oppressed by heavily equipped KDF soldiers.
Five militants were killed on the spot, while dozens of others managed to sneak into neighboring Somalia, and the team is currently pursuing them, sources added. According to sources, the ambush took place in Lafey, Mandera County near the border between Kenya and Somalia.
While security chiefs have avoided questions about the incident, reliable reports say one KDF soldier was killed and two others wounded while trying to keep the militants inside. The injured soldiers are said to have been transported to Nairobi for special treatment.
According to reports, the terrorists attacked KDF officers along Alungu-Elwak Road in the morning using grenades and weapons. According to the sources, the Kenyan troops were on their way to a runway when the militants ambushed, leading to shootings.
Reports show that the KDF team has expanded crashes in the region as they pursue the attackers. The KDF has an army base in Mandera, but it has not yet established a barracks in the county, despite the fact that Al-Shabaab militants have often attacked security forces and civilians.
The incident happened five days after two traders on a motorcycle were attacked by suspected Al-Shabaab militants along the Fino-sheikh Barrow road, Lafey Sub County. The two survived the ambush, according to police reports sent to newsrooms after the raid.
Last week, there were reports that the US African Command had asked the Ministry of Defense for permission for airstrikes in northeastern Kenya, which has struggled with security issues. Once approved, the U.S. military, which is actively involved in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia, will launch airstrikes in Kenya for the first time, particularly against the NFD and Lamu.
Earlier in the year, militants sneaked out of Somalia, raiding a U.S. naval base in Lamu and killing three Americans. In addition to engaging militants deep into Somalia, the KDF team has increased surveillance along the border, with the recent launch of the Modika barracks in Garissa serving as an added benefit.
The KDF team is ready to formally withdraw from Somalia in 2021 after full implementation of the Somali transition plan. There are close to 3,500 KDF soldiers in Somalia who are mainly praying Sector II and VI in AMISOM jurisdictions in the state of Jubaland in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab militants have been raiding northeastern Kenya for several years now, but the KDF team and other security forces have managed to minimize the attacks. A report seen by the media showed that the team has managed to break down militants, especially along the porous border.
The group has been fighting to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somalia government since 2006. In recent weeks, they have suffered huge losses in Somalia and Kenya after hundreds of them died of ground fighting and airstrikes coordinated by Allied forces in war-torn nation.