By BONIFACE ONGERI
NORTH EASTERN; KENYA: The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on Monday asked teachers in schools bordering the volatile Kenya-Somali border to stay away until the government guarantees them security.
Knut Garissa branch chairman Ibrahim Atosh said the union is concerned for by the al-Shabaab militants incursions that has claimed the lives of teachers.
The directive comes after Saturday's attack in Damajaley and Abdisugow villages left six people dead, including a local primary school teacher.
Al-Shabaab has since claimed that its "small unit of mujahedeen carried the dusk attack adding that it took two people hostages as prisoners of war.
Atosh identified the killed teacher as Zacharia Mwangi. He said the frequent attacks had spread fear among the teachers and the union has asked them to flee the border schools as a precaution.
He said there about 20 schools along the Garissa border line with Somalia.
"No teacher is safe, whether a Somali or non-Somali. The teachers are playing part in uplifting the education standards in the region but if the government cannot guarantee them security, the teachers should leave," he said.
He said if the situation does not improve, all the teachers in the interior will down their tools in solidarity with the teachers along the border.
“As a Union that represents the interests and welfare of teachers, we condemn the attacks and the government inability to provide security,”Atosh said.
He said the teachers are only armed with chalks, pens and knowledge and are vulnerable to al-Shabaab militants.
“As much as we empathise with learners, the lives of the teachers supersede anything else,” he said.
Garissa County governor Nadhif Jama has lamented that the frequent insecurity in the county would impact on county's economy and development.
He said that the daring attacks indicates lapse on the government part to take care of its citizen.
"The attackers came about 40 km deep into Kenya to execute the attack for close to 5 hours without any response or back up. This is extreme laxity at its best on the part of the government," added the County governor.
“While other counties are busy marketing themselves and wooing investors both locally and internationally, Garissa is busy tackling insecurity. No investors would want to invest in an insecure environment,” he said.
In the meantime, it has emerged that the attacked Damajaley Administration Police had only six officers. A senior police officer who sought anonymity said two officers had gone on escort duty while their senior sergeant in charge of the camp was away on official leave.
There were also claims that the impending attack was known a week earlier.
Khalif Abdi Farah, the coordinator of Northern Forum for Democracy said the government should deploy some of the officers in other parts of the country that are better off to bolster security in North Eastern region.
"We understand some of the officers are idle and are engaged in extorting residents, they should be deployed to help beef security," he said. He at the same time accused the Inspector General of Police (IG) David Kimaiyo of failing in his duties.
"The IG has failed and his assurance that they have deployed security is not helping. We cannot seem to see the officers the IG claims have been deployed. Occasionally, we see officers during operation but they again disappear and the few remaining retreat on a lapse mode," he said.
The local police in Garissa are doing their best but the national office is failing them by failing to equip them well including providing bullet proof jackets, he said.