By Angira Zadock and Abdimalik Hajir
Al-Shabaab militants shot dead three Kenyan soldiers and seriously injured eight others at Delbio in Somalia on Saturday.
The Kenya Defence Forces spokesman, Colonel David Obonyo, said Mr Bishar Mohamud Odowa, Mr Martin Nderitu and Mr Enos Omondi were killed in an ambush.
“The soldiers were attacked by gunmen around 10am while on foot patrol after having just left their camp on Saturday,” he said.
Other soldiers engaged the terrorists in a fire exchange and the attackers fled into a forest.
The soldiers pursued the attackers but by yesterday evening there were no reports about the terrorists being captured or killed.
“The search operation continues. We still do not know if some of the gunmen were killed,” Col Obonyo said.
The injured soldiers were flown to Nairobi for specialised treatment. According to military officials, the rescue took hours because the helicopter could not land owing to heavy rains.
“The injured officers are in hospital in Nairobi. They are in stable condition,” Col Obonyo said.
According to him, the gunmen travelled a long distance.
“The attack was not as a result of lack of preparedness. Ambushes do occur,” the spokesman said.
Mr Odowa was buried yesterday in an emotional ceremony at Garissa. Area Governor Nathif Jama described him as a brave soldier and a hero who paid dearly for fighting for his country.
“Today, we mourn one of our brave soldiers who died in the hands of Al-Shabaab while we are still mourning the deaths of 148 people killed at Garissa University College. This shows they are determined to kill without considering religion,” he said.
Garissa Woman Representative Shukran Gure said she was a neighbour of the fallen soldier. The leader said she had known Mr Odowa since childhood, and that the sole breadwinner of a family of six had a bright future.
Lagdera MP Mohamed Shidiye called for drastic measures to be taken, including disbanding the police force, which he said is ridden with corruption.
Since KDF went into Somalia in 2011, Al-Shabaab has been targeting the soldiers. Some have been killed previously in Delbio, including Lieutenant Kevin Webi of the 1st Battalion Kenya Rifles in 2012 during the capturing of the town.