The deaths of ten police officers after their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in Wajir East on Saturday are unacceptable. And that is because the death toll among Kenyan Security agents trying to keep the country safe from the Al Shabaab menace is on the increase.
In 2017, at least 20 Administration Police officers were killed when their vehicles separately ran over IEDs. Several KDF solders lost their lives in Al Shabaab attacks on their camps at El Adde (2016) and Kulbiyow (2017).
These attacks are a constant reminder that terrorism is an ever present danger that we must remain alert to, and that when the hunter becomes the hunted, a change of tact is called for. This newspaper has argued before that our security agents cannot afford to relax their vigil, more so when the militia gives the impression of having lost its nerve.
The continued killing of our security personnel has the undesired effect of spreading despondency across the country, more so in areas along our common border with Somalia. There is urgent need for the government to ensure the space in which Al Shabaab operate is severely restricted. Security personnel should be properly kitted out.
In saying so, we are not just talking about hardware; the tendency to equip police officers with the new guns and Armored Personnel Carriers that have failed the test of efficacy. Since the Al Shabaab are fighting a guerilla warfare, only coming out when it is advantageous to them, the need for robust intelligence gathering cannot be overemphasised.
Al Shabaab gets its recruits from disillusioned local youth, particularly among the Muslim community. Serious and sustainable deradicalisation programmes by the government would go a long way in stopping youth indoctrination.
In the unfortunate event that we lose our gallant defenders as happened, counseling and compensation for colleagues, and especially families of the slain is critical. Survivors and family members should never be allowed to feel the sacrifices their kin made were in vain; they should feel cared for and loved.
Unfortunately, this has not always been the case as the Government comes across as uncaring and unappreciative by abandoning widows and widowers in their hour of need. Many widows and their children today languish in penury because their breadwinners were killed in the line of duty and compensation has not been paid to them.