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Kenyan soldier enlisted to fight for Somalia
Thursday, June 21, 2012
By Vitalis Kimuta
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The soldier stands tall. He amiably smiles and greets us in Kiswahili when we meet in Afmadhow, Somalia.
It is not the norm to find a Somali fighter who speaks Kiswahili. We take interest and within no time, we find out that Abdinasir Ahmed Sheikh is a Kenyan fighting for the Somalia military.
He is among more than 20 Kenyans serving in Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
In the course of duty, Sheikh says, he had encountered injured Al-Shabaab operatives from Kenya while others with identification documents had been killed.
Unfortunately, he says, at least five Kenyans serving with him at the brigade were killed during a battle with the militia group.
Sheikh and the other Kenyan TFG fighters are mostly from Mandera and Garissa and are said to have been trained in Manyani in Taita-Taveta County by Kenyan security forces.
When we met Sheikh, Afmadhow had just been freed from the Al Shaabab and soldiers from the Kenya Defence Force and Somali National Army were in the town providing security to residents of Afmadhow.
What motivated Sheikh to join the Somalia army?
He says, three times he tried to join the Kenya Army and thrice he was rejected.
When he didn’t make it the third time in 2004, Sheikh decided to try his luck in the neighboring country.
“I believe I was not enlisted in the Kenyan forces because unlike those who were taken in, I did not have a godfather to push me through,” Sheikh claims.
But his getting into the Ras Kamboni Brigade was not a walk-in affair. It was three years later that he heard about the opportunity.
“I heard that the brigade was recruiting fighters who would be exposed to military training. I jumped in immediately and I have never looked back.”
Send money home
He adds, “The salary is not good, but at least I send some money to my family back home to cater for the needs of my two children whom I have not seen for two years.”
“There are tens of other Kenyans I know who are serving in TFG under the Somali National Army in the fight against Al Shabaab,” Sheikh says.
Now, his main pre-occupation in the war-torn country is to hunt down the Al Shabaab, fight, eliminate or drive them out of key towns in the southern sector.
“I have achieved my childhood dream of becoming a soldier having been recruited to the Ras Kamboni brigade in Somalia,” Sheikh said during an interview with The Standard in Afmadhow.
After enlisting in the brigade, Sheikh said he was trained by Ethiopian military for four months on how to handle arms and fighting tactics before being deployed to fight the Al Shabaab.
“During the training, I learnt how to handle and strip various types of guns.I am also knowledgeable in the fighting skills of the militia group,” Sheikh claims.
He has fought the AlvShabaab in Jerdes, Daadab, Belesc Qogani, Jalbio and Afmadhow in what perhaps has given him the insight into the terror group.
He has seen Kenyan soldiers in action and he envies their superior fighting power and technical maneouvres.
“I would love to return to Kenya, but I am not assured of getting a job. If hundreds of youths are jobless, why should I come and add to their stress,” he says.
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