Eight years on: Kenya remembers fallen soldiers of El Adde attack

January 15, 2024, marks the eighth anniversary of the El Adde battle at Gedo in Somalia that left over 147 KDF soldiers killed by al-Shabab militants.

Several others were injured and captured during the January 15, 2016 attack at the KDF base.

It happened barely five years after the KDF launched an incursion dubbed ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ into the country.

The soldiers are expected to fully exit the nation after a 13-year peace restoration mission.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Adan Duale told MPs in parliament that the last troops are supposed to leave Somalia on December 31, 2024.

The withdrawal of the troops began in April 2022.

While details of what exactly happened were closely concealed, reports indicate a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) at the front gate to the base.

The base housed a company of up to 600 soldiers from both the 5th and 9th Kenya Rifles.

The attack has since then remained the deadliest attack on the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and is the KDF’s largest defeat since independence in 1963.

With memories of the harrowing day still echoing through the hearts of those touched by the tragic event, Kenyans are reflecting on the sacrifices of the soldiers who bravely faced the relentless onslaught of the fighters.

Survivors who recounted the ordeal in a book titled The Soldiers Legacy told of how close to 200 fighters invaded the camp at around 6:30 am firing heavily.

“At around 5.15 am on January 15, a vehicle’s headlights briefly flashed in the base’s direction and then turned off. Within no time, the engine ignited and the vehicle hurtled towards the operation base,” Lance Corporal Erick Lang’at wrote in the book.

He recalled the unsuccessful efforts to stop the fast-moving vehicle with rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire.

The day began with the promise of a routine mission, but it quickly transformed into a fierce battle, leaving a lasting impact on the families and the nation.

Today’s anniversary serves as a solemn occasion to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the soldiers and to renew the commitment to combating extremism and fostering stability in the region.

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