News / Africa

    Families of Missing Kenyan Soldiers Still Awaiting Official Information

    Military pallbearers stand to attention next to the coffins of four Kenyan soldiers who were killed in Somalia, at a ceremony to receive their bodies which were airlifted to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.
    Military pallbearers stand to attention next to the coffins of four Kenyan soldiers who were killed in Somalia, at a ceremony to receive their bodies which were airlifted to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.
    Jill Craig

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed condolences to victims of the recent attack by al-Shabab militants on a Kenyan military installation in Somalia.  A number of soldiers remain unaccounted for.

    During a ceremony at Nairobi’s Armed Forces Memorial Hospital Friday, Kenyatta expressed condolences and gratitude to the soldiers and families of soldiers who were killed, injured, and missing as a result of the attack on Kenya’s base in El Adde, Somalia.

    “We owe our young soldiers a debt of gratitude, one we can scarcely begin to repay; but, we shall honor them and honor them we will,” Kenyatta said.
     
    Many of the families are still awaiting word about their loved ones, since the government has not released official numbers and many of the troops' whereabouts continues to remain unknown.
     
    Kosgei Lelmokwo is among those waiting to find out what happened to his brother Abraham, whom he says has been in the army for 25 years; but, Lelmokwo is urging patience for others in his situation.

    He says the families who are affected by this crisis just have to wait and be patient for the government to finish its verification process.  The government hasn’t yet released the final list of the dead, missing, and those who were rescued, he says.

    Ephraim Madula Anjere’s son, Stephen, joined the Kenya Defense Forces in 2010.  After previous deployments to Somalia and northeastern Kenya, he was sent to El Adde just two weeks ago.
     
    Anjere disagrees with Lelmokwo, saying the government needs to provide the families with timely information.

    “At least, what the government should tell us, first, they could have visited the affected families, talk to the affected families, do counseling and guiding, and then tell us to be patient as they do the search, instead of leaving us in darkness; because this is the thing that has traumatized many families, they need counseling and guiding," Anjere said.
     
    During Friday’s ceremony, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s Defense Forces will remain in Somalia.

    “We are [at] war with extremists, we are at war with terrorists, we are [at] war with fanatics, and this has to be a war that we must win," Kenyatta said. "Despite the adversity, we remain unbowed and resolved to build a strong, prosperous and secure nation.”
     
    Kenyan troops working with the African Union have battled al-Shabab militants inside Somalia since October 2011.

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