, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 14 – Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) on Sunday marked the first anniversary since entering Somalia, with the message ‘we will not let you down.’
The celebrations held at the Nanyuki Garrison also provided soldiers who have been fighting in Somalia with an opportunity to tell Kenyans the harrowing experience they went through in the deadly war, as well as challenges faced.
“We will not let our country down, it is our duty to protect our territories,” Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi said, adding “We never give up and that is why we have succeeded in the war.”
During the celebrations, a monument was unveiled and wreaths laid for all soldiers killed since the war on Al Shabaab started on 14 October, 2011.
“We crossed into Somalia at the beginning of the rainy season and captured many territories,” he said. “I know we have surprised many skeptics.”
KDF has made tremendous achievement in the war, having taken control of most regions previously occupied by the militant group—including the port city of Kismayu which was the group’s major stronghold.
“We went inch by inch and eventually captured Kismayu on September 20,” he boasted.
Similar celebrations were held at the Defence Headquarters here in Nairobi, Moi Airbase Eastleigh, Manda Naval Base, Gilgil and Kahawa Garrisons.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji who presided over the main celebrations in Nanyuki said the country is proud of the KDF for the “good work they have done in Somalia.”
He said the government would support families of all the soldiers killed or maimed during the war.
“To the lives that were lost, my heartfelt condolences. I want to assure the families of the fallen heroes that the government will fully support them,” the minister said.
Last week, the Minister announced that at least 3000 Al Shabaab militants had been killed in Somalia since KDF commenced the war on them.
Statistics at the Military headquarters here in Nairobi indicate that nearly 30 Kenyan soldiers have been killed since the war started.
KDF is currently fighting under the umbrella of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) whose mandate expires at the end of this month.
President Mwai Kibaki has urged AMISOM to extend the mandate to enable soldiers to complete their mission.