Failure by the security forces to act on five intelligence reports was to blame for the Garissa University College terror attack.
A report by the National Assembly’s Committee on Administration and National Security documents that the attack, in which 147 students were killed, would have been thwarted had the police acted on the intelligence provided, with the latest being 24 hours before the attack.
Aging and demoralised officers, deep-rooted rivalry within the force and defiant juniors have also been blamed by the committee for the April attack by the Al Shabaab.
A total of 159 people, including four terrorists, two security guards, three soldiers of the Kenya Defence Forces and three policemen died in the attack.
Tabling the report yesterday, Committee Chairman Asman Kamama (Tiaty) said many officers involved in the operation were aged between 36 and 58 years.
“This made it difficult for them to swiftly respond to the attack. Some officers had also overstayed in the county making them inefficient, less active and demoralised,” reads the report in part.
The committee added: “Many of the officers in the operation were not trained to fight in build-up areas or in close quarters, making it difficult for them to effectively contain the situation.”
The few officers, lack of equipment including bullet-proof vests and an unclear command structure in the early morning response to repulse the terrorists contributed to the high death toll.
The MPs recommended that in future, the Inspector General of Police should be in charge of the command in all security operations, and the military should only be called in as a “last resort”.
The MPs also asked the Government to have the elite Recce Squad stationed at county headquarters especially in the three counties of Mandera, Garissa and Wajir, and those in the Coast region that are more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Aside from the training, equipment and systemic policies within the force, the MPs also recorded that there was mistrust between the Regular Police and the Administration Police. There were also cases of indiscipline where some officers did not take orders from their superiors.
The university administrators also told the security committee that even though they had been assigned four police officers, only two reported for duty.
“The other two either did not report for duty or had deserted duty by the time the attack occurred,” the university told the MPs during its inquest into the security lapses that allowed the attack to take place.
The good news in the report is that 50 terror suspects were arrested within the first two months of the college attack.
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