Major police operation underway in Garissa

By Cyrus Ombati

Garissa, Kenya: A major police operation is underway in Garissa Town in a bid to boost security and arrest men behind serial killings that have left dozens of people dead in the town in the recent past.

Police say they also want to get illegal immigrants who are in the town for conviction and repatriation on suspicion they could be behind the attacks.

 Officials say security agents involved in the operation have so far detained more than 20 people. The operation began at 5am and it is ongoing.

More General Service Unit and Administration Police’s Rapid Deployment Unit were deployed to Garissa Sunday night and are involved in the operation. Witnesses say the town is virtually in a standstill.

“We can see hundreds of police officers on the streets and they have been moving from house to house looking for suspected terrorists. I can see many people escaping this town,” said a caller.

Another witness said the local bus stop was full of passengers who want to leave the town to Nairobi and other counties in North Eastern.

Police involved in the operation have mounted roadblocks on major roads and are checking on all occupants of various vehicles on the move. Others are visiting hotels and residential houses looking for suspects and aliens.

The operation came a day after the local CID boss and nine others officers and chiefs were interdicted for being involved in illegal activities in the area that are behind the killings.

The government also pledged to offer a reward of between Sh50,000 and Sh100,000 to anyone who may provide information that will lead to arrest of criminals behind the killings.

Internal security permanent secretary Mutea Iringo said similar interdiction action has been taken against customs officials involved in the illegal activities.

The PS said the government will streamline and closely monitor operations of taxi and boda boda operators including limiting the latter’s working hours to between 6 am and 6 pm.

Security agents will also closely monitor visitors booked in hotels and those renting residential houses, arrest all aliens for repatriation after conviction in courts and enhance patrols and mount roadblocks.

The latest killings happened on Thursday in which ten people were killed in a hotel by gunmen who escaped.

Garissa and other local towns have been the target of terrorists who kill innocent citizens, as well as security officers and other government officials, using either gunfire or grenades.

Police officers, military personnel and Kenya Revenue Authority officials have in the past been killed in targeted attacks in Garissa.

Ten people were killed during the latest attack targeted at patrons at Kwa Chege Hotel on Thursday night. 

The incidents started in October 2011 when Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia to fight the terrorist group Al Shabaab.

Officials point at a possibility that other interests were orchestrating the attacks under the guise of Al Shabaab, which usually claim responsibility for such attacks.