A story of how a few Kenyan Army soldiers defeated a thousand Al-Shabaab fighters in first encounter

A story of Bravery, Valor, Patriotism and love for country.

Kenyan army

Kenyan Army

The Kenyan Army has seen combat for many years both at home and in foreign soil. The force has been involved in numerous United Nations Peacekeeping operations which offers precious combat experience and a source of income to both the Army and its soldiers. Kenyan Army’s first peacekeeping deployment was in Namibia under the UNTAG in 1989-2001, other deployments includes UNOSOM, UNPROFOR, UNCRO, UNTAES, UNOMIL, UNPREDEP (Macedonia), UNTAET in East Timor etc.

Following the deadly onslaught of the Al-Shabaab terrorist sect, the Kenyan Army in a bid to defend the homeland, was tasked with stopping and eliminating the threat. A mission not for the faint-hearted. 0n the 16th October 2011, following a high-level preparatory meeting with top Somali military leaders in Dhobley, the Kenyan Army began crossing the border into Somalia to begin OPERATIONS LINDA NCHI (Protect the Country) against Al-Shaabab in Southern Somalia.

War in Somalia

Kenyan army troops waiting for deployment
Kenyan Army troops ready for deployment

Since the year 2009 (10 years ago) Somalia has been in a state of constant war with different terrorist and insurgent factions with Al-Shaabab in the fore. The violence has displaced or killed millions of Somalians causing an economic stagnation in the country.

On June 19th after one of the largest battles of the war – codenamed “Battle of Wabho” where one hundred and twenty-three combatant from both sides were killed, the Somali transitional Parliament Speaker Sheikh Adan Nuur Madobe pleaded with the international community to come to the aid of his country quickly. He stated that the Somali capital is about to be overrun and the government power is on the verge of being defeated by the Islamist.

His cabinet immediately declared a State of Emergency while seeking assistance from its neighbours: Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopian and Yemen. Kenyan forces quickly intervened.


23th October elements of Al-Shabaab ambushed a Kenyan military convoy in the town of Tabda in South Somalia. This was the first clash between Al-Shaabab and the Kenyan Army. 12 Al-Shaabab fighters was killed while two Kenyan soldiers was wounded. Al-Shabaab pledged to conduct more attacks hence forth.

Kenyan Air Force fighter jets responded to this by bombing the town of Jilib killing scores of terrorists.

On 12 November, the Kenyan authorities announced that its anti-terrorists operations would be coordinated under the African Union Mission in Somalia - AMISOM

April 4, 2012 Hosingow, Somalia
Following the devastating attacks by the Kenyan Defence Forces on Al-Shaabab in the past few months, the latter vowed to increase attacks on Kenyan Defence Force troops and civilians.

In a small Army outpost in Hosingow South of Somalia, housing no more than 50 Kenya Defence Force (KDF) troops. Al-Shabaab elite fighters began amassing men and equipment in Hinday East of Hosingow few kilometres from the Kenyan Army base.

Kenyan army troops preparing for battle with al shabaab
Prior to the attack, Kenyan and Somali military intelligence got wind of a possible confrontation although the exact time was unknown.
In accordance with the fighting doctrine of Al-Shabaab, the attack was expected to come by early morning or late in the night when the KDF guards were at the lowest point. Fortunately, advanced reconnaissance unit of the KDF had earlier spotted the amassing enemy troops numbering not less than one thousand foot soldiers along with their 23 mm AA guns, 0.50 Cal GMPG, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) etc.

With trenches crisscrossed around the base, KDF troops along with their Somalian National Army (SNA) troops lie in wait for the enemy to come. That evening, a very resourceful Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Robert Nyagah decided to break out the remaining ammunition from the armoury and distribute to the troops waiting for the enemy to surface. That action probably saved the lives of everybody in the camp because there was no time to replenish that day. Not long after, at 4:30 AM a KDF soldier fired an illumination flare to see the enemy’s position.

As soon as the flare lit up, hundreds of Al-Shabaab fighters who managed to crawl within a few feet of the trenches undetected opened heavy fire. The sound of gunfire, RPG, mortar rounds and other weapons pierced the night lighting up the whole night like a Christmas tree. Under the cover of fire, Al-Shabaab fighters began approaching the trench lines en mass attempting to overrun the whole base camp in a classic frontal assault charge. Believing that their superior number and firepower would surely prevail. A tactical error.

And then….

KDF troops responded in kind. Two soldiers Lance Corporal Kemboi and Senior Sergeant Ekai who have been eagerly waiting for the attackers all night unleashed their own massive mortar barrage on the assailants. The result was devastating, any unsuspecting enemy troops in the open was decimated by the mortar rounds falling vertically from above. In less than an hour, the first attack wave was blunted.

Al-Shabaab began sending fighters in waves of about hundred men every forty-five minutes. The initial enemy group would consistently press on the offensive until they run out of ammunition or killed before the next wave would engage in the hopes of overrunning the KDF camp all to no avail.

For Hours, KDF troops kept the attackers at bay although, ammunition was running out critically and reinforcements from Tabda and Liboi was running late.

At the heat of the battle, a Kenyan Air Force F-5 Tiger fighter-Bomber swoop low but could not engage the enemy because they were too close to the KDF trenches (about 20 metres). Although, the KAF F-5 jet did manage to pick out some enemy targets at the second strafing run.


As the battle raged for hours, KDF G3 rifles jammed due to over-heating. Five overzealous enemy fighters attempted to cross the trench but was repulsed by grenades. The grenades were the only weapons left.  Two KDF armored Personnel Carrier who attempted to run over the enemies over were repulsed by heavy machine gun fire from the back.

After hours of intense fighting, Al-Shabaab began retreating, this was the first actual encounter between KDF troops and Al-Shabaab. No KDF soldier was lost however, five was injured during the fighting. The only casualty on the coalition side (KDF and SNA) is three Somali soldiers that were ambushed and killed while trying to reconnoitre the enemy far from the base.

After the battle, soldiers moved to conduct post-battle assessment and were shocked at the extent of the damage the enemy suffered. Bits and pieces of human flesh was strewn all over the battlefield. 400 Al-Shabaab fighters lay dead or dying while others was dragged by retreating fighters since Al-Shabaab rarely leave their dead behind.

The Hosingow attack was supposed to be Al-Shabaab’s overwhelming victory which instead turned to a devastating defeat. The terrorist group lost more than four hundred fighters that day with more sustaining various degree of injuries.
The dead attackers had eating utensils with them because they were expecting to eat “IN” the KDF camp after their “EXPECTANT” victory.

The April 4 Hosingow attack made Al-Shabaab to respect the KDF and they never tried a probing attack again. KDF troops gave the attackers dead a decent burial.


According to Standard Digital Media

Ekene Lionel

Techy, Futurist, Award-winning defense technology writer.