ELDORET (KENYA– Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the country’s soldiers engagements have greatly degraded Somali militant group Al-Shabaab’s ability to carry out attacks in the country.

Kenyatta also praised efforts by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in the fight against terrorism both in Somalia, and at home.

“When this entire region is finally at peace, it will be because the men and women of this Service fought bravely for peace, for prosperity, and for freedom and equality under law,” Kenyatta said during the recruits pass out parade in Eldoret.

Kenya is currently engaged in the fight against the militia group in southern Somalia where its soldiers under the Africa Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) have been registering impressive gains by flushing out the militants in towns and other locations.

Kenyatta also praised the military for the role they are playing in Boni forest, Lamu County, as part of the Multi Agency Force, ridding the region of terrorists and other criminals.

The militant group is believed to have fighters operating in the area’s Boni forest that has poor communication network and terrains slowing down police operations.

Kenyatta said one of his essential duties, as the Commander-in-Chief is the protection of Kenyans and the preservation of Kenya’s integrity under the constitution.

He said in defence of motherland and in the pursuit of peace and security, some of the gallant soldiers have paid the ultimate price noting that the losses are a reminder that the threat is still there.

“I stand here today to say that these sons and daughters of Kenya have not fallen in vain. Their sacrifice for our freedom strengthens our resolve to fight the enemy, and to destroy him once and for all,” said Kenyatta.

He told the new recruits that they are now entering a war in which they will be required to be devoted and demonstrate their creativity.

“I have no doubt that you will serve Kenya faithfully, holding nothing back. So I thank you, and pray for God’s blessings upon you, both today, and throughout your service,” Kenyatta said.

In NAIROBI, Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said reduced attacks by Al-Shabaab on Kenyan soil helped the country grow tourism numbers by 9.8 percent in 2017, adding that tourist arrivals increased to 1.47 million in 2017 from 1.34 million in 2016.

“The increase in the number is because of the resilience and confidence the visitors have showed on Kenya because of our increased investment in security,” Balala told journalists in Nairobi.

He said investment in security had ensured that Al-Shabaab does not stage attacks in Nairobi or beach-tourism rich coastal city of Mombasa.

Kenya’s security forces have restricted the terrorist group to the shared border with Somalia and in Boni Forest.

Balala said the United States was Kenya’s leading source market, growing by 17 percent to top 114,507 arrivals, contributing 11.8 percent of arrivals last year.

The U.S was followed by Britain with an 11.1 percent share of arrivals numbering 107,078 arrivals. Uganda came in third with a share of 6.4 percent, closely followed by India with a contribution of 6.2 percent.

China closed the list of the top five performers with a share of 5.5 percent contribution to the total arrivals in 2017, said Balala.

According to Balala, domestic tourist also increased with a total of 4.05 million bed nights being taken up by Kenyans in 2017 compared to 3.5 million in 2016, denoting a 15.9 percent growth.

Balala attributed this growth to increased investment by the government in promoting domestic tourism through awareness campaigns that sensitized Kenyans on attractions, destinations, and experiences in Kenya.