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We’re soldiers, not Kismayu charcoal sellers – KDF


Somalia’s port city of Kismayu has been rethrust in the spotlight of suspected illegal exports after a series of photos emerged showing truckloads of charcoal being loaded on boats.

Since Saturday, Somalia’s online media have been reporting that the port, which was taken by Kenya Defence Forces in 2012 is among the top illegal charcoal exporters, business with an estimated value of Sh4 billion.

RTN Somali TV published on its Twitter page photos of mountains of charcoal sacks, boats and trucks it said were being loaded for export to the Middle East.

“Twenty boats of charcoal loaded today at Kismayu to Oman, Iran and UAE…shocking pillage and pilfering of Somalia’s natural resources,” it said.

The authenticity of the images could not be determined, but KDF immediately distanced itself from illegal activities at the port.

KDF spokesman David Obonyo said Kenyan troops were not directly involved in guarding the port.

“I have seen the photos before and it looks like somebody is trying to dig up old things for political gain. No Kenyan soldier is involved in it. Our people are at the new Kismayu Airport,” Col Obonyo said.

In the pictures, some soldiers are seen patrolling the port yard as porters load sacks brought in by white trucks. The soldiers’ identity is difficult to determine.

KDF has in the past fought off similar allegations contained in a UN Report which accused Kenyans of being involved in illegal charcoal and sugar business.

Kismayu is under the Jubbaland administration. The federal government in Mogadishu provides policy and troops from the Somali National Army jointly provide security in the port city.