On Friday 15th January 2015, 0430hrs EAT; jihadists from the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen terrorist movement (HSM) conducted a gun attack after detonating 3 SVBIED-bombs and an estimated 6 Suicide Body Borne-IED (SBBIED) at a Kenya Army (KDF) AMISOM Contingent forward operations base (FOB) manned by 1- 9th Kenya Rifles Company (180 soldiers) in El-Adde, Gedo region of Somalia. In the 6hr-long attack hundreds Jihadists were killed and hundreds others injured.
The SVBIED’s decimated the army camp; detonated pieces of ordnance, destroyed APC’s, military transport trucks, and killed approximately 63 soldiers and maimed dozens other. The 6 suicide body borne improvised explosive devices (SBBIED) targeted command and base defense positions. Armed fighters ( close protection units) coordinated the suicide fighters besides, conducted gun attacks against maimed soldiers.
Unidentified by the enemy, 3-Kenya Army machine gunners manning outposts 0.3km south of the base defended the base. They decommissioned enemy soldiers pulling back/tactically withdrawing from the camp. The machine gunners abandoned their posts after the base defenses were destroyed.
It is not clear how many army personnel were lost in the attack. However, search and Rescue Operations (SRR Ops) conducted by Special Forces (KDF-SF) brought home over 87 soldiers. The SRR Ops are still ongoing in the area. Intelligence reports confirm a unspecified number of (estimated to be 10-12) soldiers were taken hostage by the enemy. Some have had their voices recorded and aired on pro-Shebaab radio. Approximately 160 Pictures of the decommissioned base and KIA-soldiers have been published by the terror group on specific jihadist’s websites.
Lack of combat capability, decline in enlistment of foreign fighters, and the threat of Islamic States from within its ranks, challenges the Shebaab terror outfit thus eliciting desperation. Weak and desperate, the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia,Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen movement (HSM) has adopted asymmetrical warfare to exploit vulnerabilities of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops (2015-2016 outlook, Shebaab carried out 56 attacks against AMISOM troops). Militarily, the deployment of unconventional war tactic is a short term exploit.
The Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) has become terrorist’s choice weapon. It’s asymmetrical, (it’s a 4th generation warfare that terrorists as belligerents have adopted as a combat support component in terrorism operations against convectional military strategy and resources). Shebaab, in the El-Adde deployed 3 SVBIED’s against specific targets.
- The 1st target was the gate. The SVBIED detonated causing extensive damage besides killing all soldiers manning the front defense outposts. The objective was to deny the base ability to deny the attackers entry to the base besides decommissioning of as many soldiers as possible.
- The 2nd suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated outside logistics center and the base’s main parking. This bomb destroyed the communications mast and mobile-UHF radio control system, and battle wagons in parking mode. The bomb also killed soldiers and maimed many others. The objective was to cut off communication thus deny the base capability to call in reinforcements, deny combatants formation in and around the base, and decommission mobilization of troops for strategic deployment in new tactically advantageous positions.
- The 3rd SVBIED detonated at the middle of the camp killing soldiers and maiming many others.
The attackers then swarmed the camp from different directions and shot dead maimed soldiers. The 3 undetected defensive positions 0.5 kilometers south of the camp manned by machine gunners saved soldiers who survived the explosions. Soldiers, in formation tactically retreated 36 Kilometers from the base. The terror group pulled out of the town approximately 36 hours after the incident. The Kenya military deployed hundreds of ground troops and armor to the area after Special Forces retook the base.
Intelligence assessments show Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen militants may have planned the attack for nearly a year. The SVBIEDs have been recorded as the most powerful ever in Somalia. The the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Shabaab Mujahideen terrorist movement (HSM) used bombs looted from the Uganda and Burundi AMISOM contingents in Leego and Janaale Somalia to assemble the SVBIED. They also used Anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, and armored personnel carriers looted from the Ethiopian, Burundi, and Ugandan armies serving under AMISOM in Somalia.
Grey areas; intelligence assessments report enemy had prior intelligence of the base formations, outposts, communication systems/equipments locations, and force strength. This means Somali army operatives or elements within the AMISOM –El-Adde base were complicit. In past confrontations the Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen has lost significantly to the Kenya Army, a reason why they deployed hundreds of their jihadists to hit a camp with 180 soldiers.
The El-Adde attack followed a common procedure-chain of offensives. The evolution of the phenomenon, techniques and attack procedures has been closely studied at Strategic Intelligence Service (SIS) and produced as actionable intelligence. Our assessment draws out SVBIED’s as short-term asymmetrical warfare war machine and that the increased frequency of similar attacks increases army’s enhanced ability and technical expertise to identify/detect, and preempt the threat they pose. The Kenya army issued a statement announcing precisions ground and air counter-strikes. More than 26 terrorists camps in Gedo and East of Juba have destroyed and Al Shabaab militants were killed in hundreds.