Civilians, security agents pay ultimate price in war on terror

Wesley Sirikwo

Soldiers carry the casket bearing the remains of their colleague Wesley Sirikwo who was killed in El-Adde in January 2016.  

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Many lives have been and continue to be lost to acts of terrorism in Kenya despite the tens of billions of shillings the State has spent to prevent this.

By the end of the last financial year, a total of Sh52 billion had been spent on procuring weapons, combat equipment and equipping tens of thousands of troops who have remained in Somalia since the first batch went in under Operation Linda Nchi in 2011.

About a year later, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) ended Operation Linda Nchi and joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops in 2012. Since then, both security forces and civilians have borne the brunt of the terrorists, attacked when they least expect it.

After joining Amisom, the number of terrorist attacks in Kenya increased almost immediately, with one of the deadliest taking place at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013. This attack resulted in the deaths of 68 people and wounding of hundreds.

In mid-June 2014, around 50 masked gunmen attacked a police station in Mpeketoni, Lamu, shooting indiscriminately. In the end, they killed more than 60 people. And in April 2015 they killed 147 students at Garissa University.

All along, the terrorists had been targeting civilians, but this changed on January 15, 2016. In a daring direct attack on the KDF, the militants launched an assault on a Kenyan-led Amisom base in the town of El Adde, Somalia. Although the government at the time concealed the actual number of soldiers killed, it was later established that at least 200 soldiers died.

On May 7, 2018, at least seven KDF troops were killed after their vehicle, part of a patrol convoy, hit an improvised explosive device (IED) near the Somali town of Dhobley, close to the Kenyan border. A week earlier, around seven Somali soldiers were killed in the same area in an IED blast.

In May 2022, at least nine KDF soldiers were killed and five others injured when a vehicle they were travelling in was hit by an IED in Gherille.

This year, the terror group has carried out a number of attacks against Kenyan police as well as civilians. Between June 3 and 30, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project recorded nearly 100 incidents of political violence and around 70 deaths in Kenya, with Al-Shaabab accounting for over 17 per cent of these. “Garissa County had the highest number of fatalities with at least 14 during the reporting period,” the ACLED report stated.

“The current attacks have reportedly left at least 26 security officers dead and dozens injured. Most of the incidents are being carried out using remote-controlled weapons,” ACLED added.