Two Journalists Recount Chilling Chopper Rides With KDF in Somalia
Nation Media Group (NMG) crime and investigative journalists Leila Mohammed and Mary Wambui recounted scary helicopter rides while covering Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) missions in Somalia.
Speaking during an interview on the Wicked Edition on February 25, the journalists recalled that despite preparing in advance and undergoing training before going to Somalia, there were still moments of scare and terror.
The two narrated surviving danger on the frontline including chilling helicopter rides while on different missions with KDF soldiers.
Leila Mohammed with colleagues in Mogadishu.
Wambui explained one instance where in an attempt to escape Rocket Propelled Grenades(RPG) their pilot had to fly at very low levels, where RPGs could not be launched.
“There was some scare in Husingo and the pilot had to fly in a way to evade anything that is fired toward the chopper.
The pilot flew the chopper too low for almost an hour, and we could see people walking on the ground. It felt like the place was going down,” Wambui narrated.
In addition, Mohammed narrated another scary incident where the journalists and the KDF officers were squeezed into a helicopter that swayed constantly.
“When we were leaving Nairobi, there were many of us in the helicopter and we had to sit close to each other with the officers the way people sit in some ‘matatus’.
“So when the helicopter moved, we all swayed in one direction. The officers however told us that it was a normal occurrence,” Mohammed explained
In a separate incident, the journalists recounted taking off in a chopper at a very high speed.
“The plane had to accelerate as we took off and it was very scary. It felt like a rocket taking off,” Wambui stated
“When we were coming back to Kenya, the majority of us on the aircraft were journalists and crew members so we could not scream,” Mohammed added.
The two further stated that aside from the scare, they were well protected by the soldiers and officers in Somalia, allowing them to do their work less afraid.
“Before you leave the country you are given a brief. You are told what to expect, what may happen, how to behave, and all the rules you are expected to abide by.
“We are protected at all times so we trust that we are safe,” Wambui noted.
Other journalists drawn from different leading media houses in the country who have covered KDF missions include Citizen TVs Crime reporter Hassan Mugambi, Standard Group’s journalist George Maringa, and Citizen TVs camera person Mauritius Oduor.
Photo collage of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers fast-roping from a military chopper