Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) have withdrawn from a town in the Gedo region of southern Somalia Wednesday, according to officials and witnesses
Bardhere which lies 451 km southwest of Mogadishu was seized from Al Shabaab militants in July 2015 following a military advance by government and African Union forces.
Gedo deputy governor, Ismail Sheikh Ismail who spoke to Hiraan Online confirmed the troop withdrawal.
“Kenyan troops under AMISOM who were manning the town for a long time have left the town. They are heading to Elwak (a town at Somalia’s border with Kenya),” said Ismail.
The move comes just a week after Somali government told Security Council that 2018 AMISOM withdrawal would be immature as the struggling Horn of Africa nation is not yet capable of pacifying the region or maintaining country security. Al Shabaab militants still control large swaths of land in the interior.
Official underscored that they still have Somali National Army soldiers to defend the town from the militants.
“There will be no gap, the withdrawal of the KDF will have no impact on the town as we have capable Somali troops,” said Ismail.
A resident said that the AMISOM base in the town was vacated in the early hours of the morning. The town residents awoke to the withdrawal of the troops without prior notice.
“We saw the AMISOM convoys driving out of the town, we don’t know about the cause of the withdrawal but the town is stable,” said the resident.
Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in 2011 in a military operation known as ‘Linda Nchi’ following reports that Al Shabaab militants kidnapped tourists and aid workers from inside Kenya.
Al-Shabaab carried out several retaliation attacks on Kenyan troops in Gedo region.