Kenya receives nearly $1.4 million in protective equipment for terror fight

521

The Kenya Defence Forces in January received 6 730 pieces of protective equipment valued at Sh220 million ($1.38 million) from United States Africa Command.

The donation included soft body armor, ballistic helmets to protect Soldiers from small-arms fire and ballistic plates to withstand heavy ammunition.

“I can’t overemphasize the goodwill that is here in this partnership,” Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Major General Juma Mwinyika, general officer commanding, Eastern Command, said in a report by Kenyan newspaper The Star. “What is left is for us at the tactical and operational level to do much more. We have good support from the United States at the strategic level.”

Kenya and the US in September 2023 signed a five-year joint defense deal aimed at enhancing regional peace and security.

“This cooperation will enable us to respond effectively to the ever-evolving security challenges in our region,” Kenyan Defence Minister Aden Bare Duale said in a report by The Defense Post.

Kenya faces increasing threats from al-Shabaab along the Somali border, where the al-Qaida-linked group frequently uses roadside bombs to attack civilians and security forces.

The rise in al-Shabaab activity in Kenya coincides with the ongoing drawdown of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops, including those from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. ATMIS is scheduled to hand over full security responsibilities to Somali forces by December.

In Kenya, al-Shabaab mainly is active in Garissa, Lamu, Mandera and Wajir counties. Insurgents in these areas exploit clan differences to gain the favor of local militias and historically marginalized groups to recruit new members, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

An al-Shabaab attack in June 2023 killed five civilians in Lamu County. “The victims had their throats slit, and there are others who were beheaded,” a police source told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Hassan Abdul, a witness, said a secondary school student was among the victims. “Women were locked in the houses and the men ordered out, where they were tied with ropes and butchered,” Abdul told AFP.

Another resident, Ismail Hussein, said militants stole food supplies before leaving.

Also in June, eight Kenyan police officers were killed when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in Garissa County. “We suspect the work of al-Shabaab, who are now targeting security forces and passenger vehicles,” North Eastern Regional Commissioner John Otieno told AFP.

The Kenya Police Service in July 2023 announced that 20 suspected al-Shabaab fighters were killed after ambushing officers in Mandera County. Eight Officers were injured in the battle. Police recovered assorted weapons, including a machine gun and rocket launchers, AFP reported.

In Lamu County, security forces were caught off guard when al-Shabaab launched attacks in new areas, according to ACLED. In August 2023, suspected al-Shabaab fighters attacked several civilian vehicles in the county, but the Kenyan government said security forces killed 60 militants.

From 9 December to 12 January, al-Shabaab killed five civilians in Garissa County. Four health officials died in an explosion on 15 December, while one boy died in an al-Shabaab ambush on public transportation on 3 January, ACLED reported. The previous day, a multiagency security team arrested a bombmaker during an operation against an al-Shabaab explosives team.

In late December, al-Shabaab attacked a Police Quick Reaction Unit in Mandera County and destroyed communications equipment guarded by the National Police Reserve in Wajir County.