Kenyan army vehicle hits landmine in Somalia, unconfirmed casualties

A Somali Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member puts on protective clothing assisted by colleagues before the start of a training exercise to manually disarm a mock explosive device in Mogadishu, Somalia, on April 13, 2017 (UN Photo / Tobin Jones)

MOGADISHU – A roadside bomb has torn through an armored vehicle carrying military supplies to Kenyan troops serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia.

A Somali military officer, Jim’ale Mohamed Hussein confirmed that a landmine had targeted a Kenyan military vehicle, while declining to comment on the casualties.

“I heard that KDF troops’ convoy came under a bomb attack but I can’t tell you if any soldier were killed or wounded in the blast,” Hussein added.

The rebel group Al Shabaab said on its website that the blast hit the Kenyan convoy travelling near Hosingow town, leaving at least 7 soldiers dead and 4 others wounded.

The Kenyan military vehicle was also destroyed by the explosion, according to the militants’ statement provided through their website. The casualty claim could not be verified by other sources, however.

There was no immediate response from Kenyan military commanders under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) over the bomb attack claimed by Al Shabaab.

Last week, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia announced ongoing training efforts to boost the ability of Somali state police forces to dispose of explosive ordinance, including the types of devices used by Al-Shabaab.

Jubbaland state is the latest recipient of ongoing traning while South West State, HirShabelle and Puntland have already benefitted from the UN bomb-disposal effort. “The training is about building a sustainable capacity within the Somali Police Force to mitigate the explosive threats throughout Somalia,” said Patrick McCabe, project manager for the effort led by the UN Mine Action Service.

McCabe says they hope to have two police teams in Jubbaland that will be ready to dispose of such explosive devises after the training ends on 20 April.

“The IED threat has become more prevalent because Al-Shabaab has changed tactics to asymmetric warfare and the perfect tool for asymmetric warfare is the IED because it is a very indiscriminate weapon and can be placed anywhere and against any kind of target,” McCabe explained.

Reporting by Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare