Catholic bishops of Kenya have expressed their sympathies to military families who lost their loved ones during the fierce battle with the Al-Shabaab militants at a camp inside Somalia.
In a statement issued on January 20, the bishops commended the soldiers and described them as generous Kenyans “whose selfless service to our country has seen them pay the ultimate price in the line of duty.”
“Let the blood that our soldiers shed in Somalia bind us together as a nation, with love, unity and solidarity,” the bishops said.
“The only way to guarantee our nation’s security is help restore peace in our neighbor’s house. We call upon the international community to work with Kenya to help make this possible,” the message read.
The Kenyan soldiers are feared to have suffered massive casualty during an Al- Shabaab attack in Somalia. It has been described as the worst disaster to hit Kenyan soldiers since their entry into Somalia in 2011.The attack have been likened to the 1998 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi that left more than 200 people killed with lots of damaged buildings.
There have been varying reports on the number of deaths recorded. While a Kenyan military statement made no reference to the number of dead people, BBC, quoting Al-Shabaab, put it at 60.
President Uhuru Kenyatta sent a message of sympathy to families of the Kenyan troops who were killed in combat; he described the incident at El Adde base as “heartbreaking”.
The bishops have continued to pray “for those who have not been reunited with their families.”
Local parishes across Kenya have set up trauma desks to counsel families of the soldiers killed in combat. Other protestant churches and their pastors across the country, too, have united and are working with the various families in their areas.
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen commonly known as Al-Shabab is a jihadist terrorist group based in East Africa. It pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda. The group describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”, and is engaged in combat against the Federal Government of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for many bombings including various types of suicide attacks. Among those was a 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall that killed at least 67 people and left some 170 others injured.