Five things we learnt from the KDF’s statement on El Adde

  1. The bombs were massive: General Mwathethe said there were three Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices. One got into the centre of the Kenya Defence Forces camp and was exploded and the two more blew up inside the camp in the course of the attack. “If you can imagine that one Vehicle-Borne went through the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi did that damage, you can imagine three of those in that small defensive position,” he said. Al Shabaab clearly have the capability to collect material and assemble it into ammunition that has a big impact.
  2. The impact was devastating: “I am aware that most of you are interested to know the figures. I’d like you to appreciate the briefing already given on the magnitude of this attack and therefore the need for proper identification of our fallen heroes, which in some cases will require DNA tests.” DNA testing takes long as samples have to be taken from the families first and then compared with that taken from the dead. It is basically a case of trial and error as they are basically checking whose genetic material matches with the samples available.
  3. Troops were probably not used to the environment and the terrain: General Mwathethe confirmed that they had just rotated into the deployment. They had also gone through the routine pre-deployment training although that is nothing like the real deal.
  4. We cannot be sure about whether the troops knew something was coming. “This is something that is yet to be verified. There is intelligence in the air every other day but I cannot say at the moment that there was specific intelligence for this attack,” said General Mwathethe. There has been talk from a Somalia National Army officer in charge of the Gedo region that the KDF had been informed about the imminent attack. The Board of Inquiry set up, and already on the ground as the CDF said, would help establish whether this is true.
  5. Al Shabaab are in possession of a serious load of arms, ammunition and equipment: The folks on the other side routinely carry a camera on these sort of missions and on Wednesday began putting up photographs of their exploits at El Adde. Among the equipment taken were Armoured Personnel Carriers, Land Rovers, trucks as well as armoured fighting vehicles. There is also a load of very bad images that would do you no good to look at. Gen Mwathethe said sending assistance by air, usually the game-changer when it comes to Al Shabaab- was ruled out because the fellows had also mounted anti-aircraft guns, probably the same they had taken from KDF.