Day at KDF camp in So­ma­lia, where dan­ger lurks round cor­ner

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NEWS - BY FRED MUKINDA

Cap­tain (Dr) Robert Tsimba wears a stetho­scope, at­tend­ing to pa­tients seek­ing treat­ment at a mil­i­tary camp in So­ma­lia, but still tightly holds an M4 assault ri­fle.

At an­other cor­ner, sergeant James Karanja, the camp’s cat­e­chist, sits hold­ing a Bi­ble while the other hand car­ries an AK-47 ri­fle.

Evans Wekesa is the camp’s chef and, as leads cooks in pre­par­ing dishes for his com­rades, he has a G3 ri­fle on his back. This is the typ­i­cal life in an Ami­som camp in So­ma­lia.

In Sec­tor 2, the area where Kenya Defence Forces are de­ployed, there are 16 of them and are known as For­ward Oper­at­ing Bases.

With the head­quar­ters at Dhob­ley, there are bases in Hosingo, Tabda, Be­lesqo­qani, Af­mad­how, Xa­gar, Ab­dalle Bi­role, Kis­mayu, Busaar, Fafadun and Ku­day, among oth­ers.

The Na­tion vis­ited some of the bases and spent days with the sol­diers on the front­line.

Bri­gadier Joachim Ngure Mwamburi, the sec­tor com­man­der, started with a warn­ing: “The se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion here is fluid and un­pre­dictable. Al­ways wear your hel­met and flak jacket to pro­tect your­self from bul­lets. In case of an at­tack, you move to the trenches. That is where we seek pro­tec­tion.”

Even when al-shabaab ter­ror­ists who Ami­som is fight­ing in So­ma­lia are not ready for a con­fronta­tion, they rou­tinely fire mo­tors and rocket pro­pelled grenades to­wards the camps in what the mil­i­tary calls “prob­ing at­tacks.”

One brief­ing was in­ter­rupted af­ter Bri­gadier Mwamburi re­ceived a call on his cell­phone.

He is heard bark­ing at the caller on the other end, “basi wachemshwe,” (go ahead, open fire).”

The com­man­der later ex­plains that flash lights were spot­ted ap­proach­ing one of the bases un­der his com­mand.

The camp is manned round the clock by KDF sen­tries with mounted ma­chine guns, but ev­ery sol­dier and of­fi­cers take their weapons to bed, to the din­ing ta­ble and even to the wash­rooms.

16 The num­ber of bases in Sec­tor 2 where the Kenya Defence Forces sol­diers are de­ployed.

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