Mystery of Ugandan commandos manning Kenya’s Somalia embassy

Even Kenyan military officers visiting the Ambassador are not spared the scrutiny of the elite private security guards, who are privately sourced

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By Payton Mathau

The Kenyan embassy in Somalia is secured by a team of Ugandan private military security guards. The private security guards are also deployed to several hotels and businesses operating within Mogadishu’s airport, which is secured by Amisom troops from Uganda and Burundi.

Their services are procured by individual entities.

The move comes after fifteen people were killed in an explosion at Jazeera Palace, a diplomats’ hotel on July 26, 2015. China, Qatar and Egypt had embassies at the hotel.

The Kenyan ambassador to Somalia Major General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo, who was rescued from the Jazeera Palace Hotel, has since moved his office from the hotel to the Mogadishu International Airport also known as the Aden Abdulle International Airport, near SKA International complex in Dagmada Waaberi.

As you enter the compound, you are ushered by two private security guards clad in sandy brown military style, double side pocketed fatigues.

The way they hold the shiny wooden butts of their AK 47 assault rifles reveals their training and alertness.

Even Kenyan military officers visiting the Ambassador are not spared the private security guards’ thorough scrutiny before their vehicles are waved through.

Inside the compound, just before entering Amb. Tumbo’s office, is yet another set of equally trained and alert private security guards who direct you to park your car at a parking lot further away from the office building.

The current embassy is located within the heavily fortified Green Zone in Mogadishu, which also houses the Aden Abdulle International Airport, the United Nations, African Union/AMISOM headquarters, Ugandan military base and an array of hotels where foreign contractors stay.

Concerned over the Kenyan ambassador’s security following repeated bomb attacks on establishments, especially hotels frequented by foreigners and senior Somalia, government officials, the Kenyan government resolved to construct a permanent and secure mission for its diplomats in 2015. 

In 2017, then Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed told Parliament that insecurity had made Kenya stop the construction of the embassy.

The contractor had completed the office block, the ambassador’s residence and four staff houses before security concerns caused government to cease construction, which was due for completion by December 2016.

Amb. Tumbo in May revealed that the construction would soon be completed although he did not reveal who would be in charge of security. Under normal circumstances, the host country deploys the most elite security agency to provide security to all foreign missions on request.

A Washington DC based private military security company, Bankroft Global Development (BGD), runs a military camp and a hotel in Mogadishu and trains Amisom troops in their fight against Al Shabaab.

The hotel, International Campus, is used by foreign diplomats, journalists and aid workers who would otherwise be under threat by the insurgents if they stayed in regular hotels without security.

Bankroft has been known to receive its payments from African countries whose troops operate in Somalia but who receive their funding from United States and EU.

BGD mercenaries have also been training Burundi National Defence Forces, Uganda People’s Defence Force troops fight against Al Shabaab and Somalia’s elite Danab, which is part of the dreaded National Intelligence and Security Agency, and even included them in operations. (

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