In July, the situation changed somehow when an additional 300 troops were dispatched to Kismayu under Captain Fry while Major Quentin, who was commanding 400 men, joined the fray by launching an operation in Soyah. There was jubilation amongst the British troops when they captured a large number of cattle, prompting the then Jubaland’s sub-commissioner, Jenner, to declare peace.
The peace was short-lived, for some Goashas were murdered by suspected Ogaden militiamen. Eager to impose the rule of law in his area, Jenner summoned all the Jubaland chiefs and ordered the Kismayu Chief, Hasan Year, to arrest the killers. Yera, who had also been instructed to collect a fine of 1,000 Rupees defied the sub-commissioner and instead organised a secret meeting with fellow chiefs Ormar Murgan, Hasan Oorfa and Hassan Odel.
It was during the meeting that the four chiefs planned to kill Jenner during his scheduled travel to Lorian Swamp. At the same time they were to attack a caravan of Borana that was on its way home. They pounced on the caravan 25 miles before it reached Afmadow.
Jenner unknowingly walked into his death on the dawn of November 16, 1900 when he was ambushed at Lorian Swamp. It was a total massacre for out of the 40 policemen accompanying him, only eight men who were locals were spared.
The sub-commissioner could have been saved but by the time word of the planned elimination was leaked to the Kismayu sub-commissioner Blake on November 15, it was too late. By the time Captain Rattigan, who was commanding 100 men waded through waist-deep water caused by heavy downpour, Jenner had been killed.
The chilling news of the sub-commissioner’s killing triggered outrage in Kismayu, Lamu, Mombasa and London when the tragedy initially passed on by runners was later transmitted by a telegram.
At that juncture Colonel Ternan, who was the acting commissioner of the East Africa protectorate, started planning retaliatory attacks even as he awaited marching orders from London. As a full-scale war was being planned, Ternan ordered a battle ship, HMS Magicienne, to proceed to Kismayu.
A garrison of the East African rifles also marched to Kismayu; it was joined by 300 troops who at the time were thought to be sufficient to quell the revolt. “Ternan estimated at the time he was against 4000 men who had only 120 guns and 1,500 rounds of ammunition,” the records divulged.
A battle plan was formulated where one company of East African Rifles would be stationed at Kismayu while 800 men were to proceed to Kumbi near Lake Deshek Wama.
A force of 500 soldiers was reserved for attacking Afmadow, and Col Ternan had at his disposal two-mountain guns, 50 Aden Carmel corps and half a battalion of infantry.
He also had access to a field hospital and three-month’s supply of the naval ship; HMS Magicienne also brought more military hardware and soldiers.
As the troops were being massed and reinforcements arrived from India, Col Ternan dug wells in the desert as he awaited orders from London to conduct the operation that was ultimately launched on December 12, 1900. Shortly before Col Ternan departed from Kismayu on January 25, some peace ambassadors were sent by the Ogaden clan with a peace deal.