By David Goldman-Goldman is a renowned intelligence news analyst and a reputed investigative journalist.(Strategic Intelligence Service)
On 27th of January 2017, the last Friday of the 1st month of the new year, the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen Movement (HSM), staged what terrorism and counter terrorism experts and military intelligence officials in the coalition forces now call their last attempt to attack the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) forces deployed in Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate.
Approximately 183 elite fighters of the terror group including some from a brigade code-named ‘the butchers’ were killed and over 100 wounded by Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) at the KDF-AMISOM base in Kolbiyow (Kolbio) at the border region of Somalia. The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) military intelligence battle damage assessment (BDA and Situation Reports) confirmed that the army lost several soldiers in the theater.
The Batlle of Kulbhiyow (Kolbio)
HSM aka Al-Shabaab at 0400HRS EAT deployed 3 suicide vehicle bound improvised explosive devices (SVBIED) and 550 of its most elite fighters drawn from different bases in Somalia including Hiraan and Bay. These fighters were handpicked by Ali Dheere and Maalim Osman, the commanders tasked by Al-Shabaab Shura Council to conduct the attack. The fighters were from terrorists most admired brigades namely the Saleh Nahbahn Brigade, Jaysh Ayman which operates from Somalia’s border with Kenya, and the Abu Zubeyr brigade. All these groups were involved in all attacks against AMISOM troops (Ref: Janaale, Leego, Halgan, and El-Adde in 2016). The mission of the 550 terrorists was to kill each and every of the 123 soldiers stationed at the base before 0800HRS, raise and hoist the flag of the terrorists before distributing pictures of dead Kenyan soldiers on social media to horrify the world and earn glory.
Despite the beautiful dawn beckoning, the few men besides their doctors, nurses, scouts, cooks, priests, and their commanders, lay quietly for the enemy. They had prepared well. The cold morning of Friday the 27th of January kept reassuring them of a day of valor ahead. “Today we make Kenya proud. Today we will free the Somali people from the chains of a relentless enemy”…they kept reassuring each other. With the fingers clutching their machineguns firmly, finger on the trigger, and eyes wide open, the few men from the Kenya Riffles Unit based in Mombasa waited.
With his shoulder never tiring in anticipation, an army sergeant kept feeling the trigger of his special forces shoulder fired Rocket Grenade Propeller (RPG), the damn thick was intact than ever. His collegue, an army Captain using his night visions firmly held with his left hand gave the signal, “There they are, 3 trucks. Lights off, and speeding towards target! Fire!”
The Sergeant pulled it. The whispering tremolo, the barren solitude, and constant waiting ended in a myriad of fireballs and massive explosions. The first suicide bomber was killed and his truck bomb decommissioned. This was the trap, and the enemy fell for it. KDF machine gunners, snipers, and RPG units readied their weapons. It’d be in 10 minutes before the enemy reached the desired range.
The RPG gunner fired another grenade targeting the second suicide bomber truck (SVBIED). His kill was perfect, and the barrenness of the night was ended by distant screams of countless yells of “Allah Akbar!”
“Here they come! Give them nothing but what they deserve!” The CO whispered to his men ready to destroy an enemy who was murderous and in many folds!
The screams of ‘Allah Akbar’ and the explosion of the 3rd SVBIED were simultaneous. The RPG gunner narrowly missed it but it hit an abandoned gate outpost.
It was the thunderous and simultaneous automatic machinegun fire and flares from the Kenya Army outposts and positions that opened the dawn.
And like a song in twilight, the battle of Kolbio began. A Sniper perched on a low hanging branch kept counting his kills until his unit commander told him to allow him count his. For 45 minutes, the KDF gunners pinned down the 1st wave of the enemy fighters ending their approach to the base.
At 0515HRS another wave of PKM machinegun fire great the dusk of this action packed last Friday of January 2017. The army began their merciless onslaught, shooting dead every one of the approaching enemy combatants. By 0620HRS, orders to cease firing were given. The soldiers were instructed to withdraw from the position and tactically take positions outside the base to ensure complete annihilation of the enemy.
The last of the militant’s brigades again fell for the trap, mistaking the tactical withdrawal of the army men for retreat. Assuming they had captured the AMISOM-KDF base in Kolbio at 7.15am East African Time, the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen Movement (HSM) last men were attacked from all fronts by the Kenya Army soldiers. The guns blazed from the unseen positions hitting the enemy with brute force and precision. A Private would load a machine gun and the gunner would pat his back. The Commanding Officer kept yelling praise and motivation to his gallant soldiers despite several falling under the enemy fire.
AMISOM troops fired artillery shells at the eastern end of the base where more than 100 fighters were celebrating and receiving orders from their commander identified as Maalim Osman. On the front where the SVBIED had detonated mortars rained on the approximately 200 terrorists celebrating and receiving instructions from Al-Shabaab commander Ali Dheere. The simultaneous attack divided the attackers into different groups forcing each to run for its live. Screams of pain and dying terrorists rocked the air. Horrified fighters ran as others were felled by machine gun fire. The elite brigades of the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen Movement (HSM) were now running away from what AMISOM has claimed as the worst defeat of the Al-Shabaab terror groups history.
The terrorist’s commanders opted abandoning the attack and ordered the terrorists to retreat as fast as they could. As more fighters were shot dead and many more mowed down by machinegun fire, demoralized HSM commanders started confiscating mobile phones from the militias and ordered use of VHF and UHF Radio to avoid leakage of the horrifying defeat at Kolbio.
With the barrels of the machineguns, automatic rifles, and RPG’s smoldering hot, the Kenya Defense Forces watched from the tactically advantageous positions as the enemy fell down and retreated in utter defeat. Their fingers and arms blistered by the hot barrels, soldiers emerged from their positions, raising the flag of KDF and AMISOM high for Somalia.
Intelligence shows over 150+ terrorists are unaccounted for including both Commanders Ali Dheere, and Maaalim Osman. In Jiliib, the headquarters of the terrorists, 80+ badly wounded terrorists were received yesterday afternoon. This attack is believed to be a big setback for the terror group. AMISOM Intelligence says Al-Shabaab suffered the highest number of causalities during an artillery and mortar operation by AMSIOM troops. The bravery of the KDF soldiers in defense of their base was huge. This is valor and honor.