Sources indicate that Somalia citizens and leaders are a worried lot after the withdrawal of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) from a major military base in the country since they believe they are now exposed to Al-Shabaab threats.
In a report by Nation, a high ranking military official, whose identity was concealed, indicated that the move by KDF was classified and that they should await briefing by officers of military intelligence before they make the information public.
The Kenyan troops started to withdraw from their command center in areas of Bursar, which was liberated from the control of Al-Shabaab in the first 100 days of entry of KDF into Somalia.
A senior Somali leader is reported stating, “Our people spotted the troops heading towards the Somali border. They destroyed their military base before leaving.”
The Bursar area is well documented as an area where the Kenyan military suffered its greatest loss in history following the El Ade attack, losing around 200 soldiers.
Somalia’s minister for planning and international cooperation has indicated that the withdrawal of KDF has left the Somali people uncertain about their next move in relation to security measures and fostering of peace.
KDF has also withdrawn from other areas of Taraka, Bardera, and Ffadun.
KDF spokesperson Paul Njoroge and Bogita Ongeri, the spokesperson of the Department of Defence, on Tuesday, declined to respond to inquiries by the media in relation to the subject matter.
The withdrawal of KDF seemingly follows a meeting of Amisom commanders in Mogadishu in mid-February wherein new Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) were discussed as well as a framework for African Union troop’s gradual transition and final exit from Somalia.
Among those in attendance at the meeting were the Amisom force commander Lieutenant-General Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn and his deputy (a Kenyan) Major-General Charles Tai Gituai, who is in charge of Amisom’s plans and operations.
The deputy special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission Mr Simon Mulongo informed that there are phases already established for the Somalia Transition Plan.
There are also concerns quickening processes of handing over priority locations in the country to the Somali Security Forces in an effort of imploring the Somali government to take full responsibility of the nation’s national security.
Experts in both military and diplomatic circles observe various reasons for withdrawal of troops from the remaining key areas in the country.
BY ABEL AGORO