Kenya: KDF helicopter crashes in Boni Forest
NAIROBI, Kenya - An unconfirmed number of Kenya Defence Forces [KDF] soldiers died in Monday night within the dangerous Boni Forest in Lamu County, following a helicopter crash, almost a week after several other personnel were injured after an Al-Shabaab IED explosion.
In a statement from Strategic Communications Director Brigadier Zipporah Kioko, the Kenya Air Force Huey helicopter crashed at the time the soldiers were doing intense patrol within Lamu County, where the team is pursuing Al-Shabaab militants through Operation Amani Boni.
Without confirming the number of victims, Brigadier Zipporah Kioko noted that the crash happened at night during patrols and sent messages of condolences to affected families. A team of inquiry has been dispatched from the Department of Defence to investigate the crash, she added.
"A Kenya Air Force Huey helicopter crashed last night in Lamu County while on patrol. The crew and other military personnel on board were part of an air surveillance squadron intensifying day and night patrols and surveillance for the ongoing Operation Amani Boni," read the statement.
"The leadership and entire KDF fraternity condole with the families of the crew. A board of inquiry has been constituted and dispatched to the scene to establish the cause of the crash," she further said without giving more information.
Usually, KDF like many military teams across the world, does not give publicly full disclosure of such incidents, but the statement seems to confirm that there was no survivor. The soldiers have been in Boni Forest for the last five years after Parliament authorized Operation Amani Boni within Lamu.
The forest stretches from Kenya to Somalia, giving soldiers and other multi-agency security teams hard times in containing Al-Shabaab, who have intensified activities in the country. Al-Shabaab does not have the capacity to downing aircraft despite boasting of being in a position to do so.
Kenya has been fighting Al-Shabaab for the last 12 years since the activation of Operation Linda Nchi in neighboring Somalia, but would later integrate her troops into the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS]. The soldiers are expected to make a full withdrawal from the Horn of Africa nation in the next few months.