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#63IsNotJustANumber: Kenyans mourn fallen soldiers

By HILARY KIMUYU

“I will keep the families in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time, and I ask Kenyans to pray with me.”

Those were the words of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Uhuru Kenyatta while confirming that an unspecified number of Kenya Defence Forces soldiers had died in an ambush in Somalia on Friday morning.

As the president mourned, so did majority of Kenyans who took to Twitter and created the hashtag #63IsNotJustANumber which has been trending since Friday.

There is no official report yet on the exact number of casualties, however the international media has been reporting that the Al Shabaab terrorist are claiming to have killed 63 soldiers.

The president said the attack on Kenyan soldiers will not bring to an end the mission for peace and stability in Somalia.

“I take this opportunity to express mine and the country’s deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the fallen. I stand with you,” the president said in a statement.

The spokesman for the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Colonel David Obonyo, said Al Shabaab fighters overran the Somali army base and Amisom had counter attacked.

NUMBER OF CASUALTIES

“The number of casualties on both sides is unknown,” Colonel Obonyo said in a statement on Friday.

Opposition leader Cord Raila Odinga and his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia Mudavadi joined other Kenyans to send condolences to the families of the dead soldiers, saying the attacks showed the threat of terrorism was real and urged the country to stand together.

“I extend deep condolences to the families, friends and relatives of the slain soldiers who have died in a valiant effort to keep our country and the world safe,” said Mr Odinga. “Their death confirms the danger we continue to face from extremists as a country and a region.”

Mudavadi said: “The attack shows that terrorism is alive and it is fatal for us to relapse into a false sense of security. Kenyans must remain extremely vigilant against the evil of terrorism.”

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka tweeted: “KDF’s continued presence in Somalia prolongs the war with Al-shabaab & guarantees more human casualties #63IsNotJustANumber #IStandWithKDF

Activists Boniface Mwangi said, “During national days they march in beautiful ceremonial uniforms but their real job is dangerous. #63IsNotJustANumber.”

One Nzombo asked: “Are sons, brothers, Husbands and fathers, my only concern is to those left, who will take care of them the Government? #63IsNotJustANumber,” while Collins Sikuta added, “My heart goes out to the orphaned children and the parents who’ll bury their children.”