At least 180 Kenyan troops were killed when al-Shabab attacked their base last month, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said.
Kenya has still not given casualty figures for the assault in the southern Somali base of el-Ade. The Islamist militant group said it had killed about 100 Kenyan troops.
If it is confirmed that 180 troops were killed, it would be al-Shabab’s deadliest assault since it was formed nearly a decade ago. President Mohamud gave the death toll of 180 in an interview with a Somali television station, while defending his attendance at a memorial for the soldiers in Kenya. Some Somalis accused him on social media of showing greater concern for the killing of Kenyans than his own nationals.
Mr Mohamud said it was important to pay tribute to the troops killed in el-Ade, which is in Somalia’s south-western region of Gedo. “When 180 or close to 200 soldiers who were sent to us are killed in one day in Somalia, it’s not easy,” he told Somali Cable TV. “The soldiers have been sent to Somalia to help us get peace in our country, and their families are convinced that they died while on duty,” he added.
Kenya has only said that the bombs used in the attack were three times more powerful than those used by al-Qaeda in the 1998 US embassy attack in the capital, Nairobi, which left 224 people dead. Kenya has about 4,000 troops in the 22,000-strong African Union force battling al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda, in Somalia.