NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 28 – The Kenya Defense Forces on Saturday said it was only a matter of time before the two Kenyan civil servants held in Somalia in revenge for Nairobi’s troop deployment against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab were either rescued or freed.
Army spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna told reporters in Nairobi that they know the probable location where District Officer Edward Mule and Registrar of Persons Clerk Fredrick Irungu Wainaina were being held after they were taken to Somalia three weeks ago.
Seven people including three Administration Police officers were killed in the raid at Gerille Police post, seven kilometres from the Somalia border.
“For the security and safety of the two people, we do not want to reveal these places,” Oguna said.
He said they are also using other avenues to have the two Kenyans freed.
“We are also in talks with the local community in Somalia to have the two freed unconditionally but this does not mean that we are talking to Al Shabaab,” he said.
Oguna also protested the move by the extremist group to label the two civil servants as Prisoners of War (Pow).
“We are dealing with an enemy that has no respect for dignity of human life, these were civilians who were abducted when they were providing normal civilian related service,” he said.
“PoW is a term preserved for combatants, these are not combatants and to label them as PoW gives an impression of how Al Shabaab does not respect the international humanitarian law during armed conflict.”
There has been a spate of cross-border attacks by Somali militants both before and after Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October.
The shooting and kidnapping on Wednesday, January 12 was the latest in a string of attacks in northeast Kenya in the three months since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to fight the Shabaab.
Regional armies are pushing against Shabaab positions in Somalia, with Kenyan forces in the far south, Ethiopian soldiers in the west and African Union forces in Mogadishu made up of troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.
Oguna said nine Kenyan soldiers have so far died since Operation Linda Nchi started.
The elite US Navy SEALs swooped into Somalia on Wednesday and rescued two hostage aid workers after killing their nine kidnappers, a rare and daring raid in the Horn of Africa nation to free foreign captives.
American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, of Denmark, humanitarian aid workers for a Danish demining group, were rescued three months after they were kidnapped on Oct. 25 in the town of Galkayo in the semi-autonomous Galmudug region of the Horn of Africa country.
The SEALs came from the same elite Navy unit – SEAL Team Six – that killed al Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan last year, US officials said.