Three African leaders on Wednesday called for concerted efforts among the international community to defeat terrorism.
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia vowed to keep soldiers serving under the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia until the country is fully liberated from the militants.
“With our allies, we will continue in Somalia to fulfill our mission. Some, whose courage has failed them, want to give up the mission now. They want to retreat, to leave the field to the enemy in the hope that he will leave them alone,” Kenyatta said during a requiem service in Eldoret for Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers killed in an attack in El-Adde, Somalia by Al-Shabaab fighters.
Kenyatta said Kenya was fighting a global war that requires response from the international community. “We are not alone. President Buhari, and Nigeria, are no strangers to the enemies we face. Like us, he has had to face their unreasoning cruelty,” he said.
During the requiem mass, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) flags were at half-mast in memory of the fallen heroes who died in southern Somalia on Jan. 15.
The Kenyan soldiers were stationed along with armoured vehicles at strategic positions inside and outside the barracks as snipers kept vigil atop surrounding buildings and along a busy highway.
“Like us, Nigeria has had to comfort the victims of terror, and the families of soldiers who paid the ultimate price. I want to reassure President Buhari that Kenya stands with Nigeria in this struggle. We know a little of the pain you have had to endure, and it only strengthens our solidarity with you,” Kenyatta said.
He admitted that these are trying times, noting that the men who fell served in difficult circumstances, far from home, all to keep Kenyans safe.
“Many of those whom they protect have trouble imagining how much courage their service demanded of them. And yet these patriots stuck to their task, day after day, night after night,” he said.
President Buhari whose country has faced increased attacks from Boko Haram urged Kenya to ensure that the blood that was shed by the Islamist militants was not in vain.
“We should ensure that the blood of the fallen heroes was not shed in vain. Terrorists do not have a place in our communities, towns and countries,” he said.
The Nigerian leader said his nation was willing to work with Kenya and all countries in fighting terrorism, noting that no country was immune to terrorism.
“We must rise against extremist’s ideologies to defeat terrorists. Nigeria is willing to work with Kenya and all countries in fighting terrorism. No country is immune. We must be firm against radicalization,” he said.
Kenyan troops are pursuing Islamist militants after last week’s attack in southern Somalia after killing the militants’ senior commander.
Al-Shabaab claimed to have killed 100 KDF soldiers and captured 12 of them who are being used as human shield.
President Mohamoud condemned the barbaric attack on the KDF soldiers and vowed that his country and AMISOM forces will defeat them.
“I want to assure you that we will defeat them and we will defeat them finally. The enemy we are facing today must be defeated. I cannot express the importance the role KDF plays in Somalia,” Mohamud said.
He said terrorism has no borders or religion and called on the international community to join forces to defeat global terrorism.