AP: My colleagues died trying to save me

We were on a normal patrol along the road. It was one of the many patrols we had conducted using the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle).

We ran over an IED; the vehicle was thrown into the air and it landed with a thud. We clung to our weapons, took extra ammunition and got out. We took cover against the vehicle and engaged the enemy.

The day began at 6 am at Basuba. We were seven officers from the AP’s Rural Border Patrol Unit in Mangai.

There was our commander the Inspector, the gunner and the driver and four of us.

We boarded the MRAP together with a civilian who had asked for a lift. We normally carry residents in our vehicles when they require transport. We can pick them up along the way and some request for transport at our camp.

MILITARY BRIEF

Our next stop was Baure – the Kenya Defence Forces camp.

Our commander received a brief from the military, and they let us through. The military had patrolled the area the previous day. So we embarked on the 30 kilometre patrol.

Initially the journey was okay and there was no cause for alarm. But somewhere along the way, there was a loud bang. At first I did not know what had happened. We were momentarily disoriented but our instincts took the better of us.

We clung to our weapons because it was clear we had hit an explosive. We are trained in quick response techniques.

We opened the door and got out. We took cover against the MRAP and engaged the enemy because they were now shooting at us.

TRAPPED IN FRONT

But there was a problem. The driver and commander were trapped in the front because the MRAP had landed on its side. The gunner, too, was injured because the vehicle had landed on him.

The gunner is the officer who positions himself on an opening on the roof of the vehicle ready to engage an enemy using mounted machine guns.

As the gun battle intensified, we retreated to the bush and that is when I discovered I was injured.

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Though I struggled with my ankle, my back gave in.

I slid into nearby bushes and told my colleagues to proceed further until they could get help. They told me to stay still and quiet and promised they would come back for me.

LOUD BANGS

I stayed alone in the bush without food and water. While in the bush, I heard two other loud bangs.

Much later, I learnt that my colleagues, who I was banking on for survival, were killed in one of the subsequent explosions.

In less than an hour after we left the vehicle, military vehicles were hovering around.

I shot one round to signal my position. I could hear them calling out my name. But my back had given in completely so I could not move to a position they could see me. I was not  able to shout back when they called.

I stayed in the bush until 6 am the following day. I mustered all the strength I could and crawled from my hideout.

CLEAR ROAD

All the while I kept off the clear road and used the bush as cover. But I also ensured I did not wander far from the road.

At 10 am, I saw KDF soldiers walking in two single files by the roadside.

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My boss (another police Inspector) was walking with the soldiers. I made my presence known and I raised my hands above my head. I heard the inspector tell the soldiers not to shoot. He said that is my man.

RESCUE UNIT

One soldier rushed forward and disarmed me. I later realised military rescue units had picked up the inspector from our camp so that he could identify any survivors.

Military helicopters arrived later and I was airlifted to Nairobi.

First stop was at Baure, then Manda before I was finally brought to Nairobi. When they left me in the bush, I was later told that, my colleagues and the civilian spotted a military APC that was carrying rescue units along the way.

They were picked up by the APC and were returning to the blast scene to recuse me and others. But it also hit an IED.

That is the third blast I heard. The second blast was from an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) that was fired by the militants.

The three police officers, the civilian and two KDF soldiers, I was told, died after their vehicle was ripped apart after the other explosion.

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