GSU officers clash with al-Shabaab militia gang

Business

By Cyrus Ombati and Boniface ongeri

A contingent of General Service Unit (GSU) officers crossed into Somalia and killed a dozen al-Shabaab militants in a clash at the Liboi border.

This was after the militants allegedly fired to the Kenyan side and damaged a water tank at a GSU camp on the main border, police said yesterday.

Officers involved in the Tuesday operation said suspected al-Shabaab militia fired to the camp and hit a water tank that is the only source of the vital commodity for the battalion.

"The officers took this as a provocation and pursued them to their hideouts near the border. I saw at least 12 bodies as we drove back to the Kenyan side," said a witness who asked not to be mentioned.

No casualty was reported on the Kenyan side. There was tension at the border yesterday amid fears of retaliation.

Sporadic fighting

There has been sporadic fighting pitting forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the militia group over the control of Dobley town, which is a few kilometres from Liboi. Military personnel stationed at the border did not join the operation, but watched as their GSU counterparts pursued the attackers, witnesses said.

A security official said the fighting had now moved from Bulawayo town near Mandera to Liboi and Damajale areas, which are near the Coastal area. "Our officers are in charge at the larger border and so far the fighting is ongoing in Somalia. Several other government officials are involved to check on those escaping towards Kenya," said military spokesman Bogita Ongeri.

Meanwhile, three Somali soldiers arrested in Wajir for deserting the force would be handed to their authorities in a clandestine ceremony slated for tomorrow.

The trio were among 2, 400 officers training in Isiolo and were heading back to Somalia to bolster the Transitional Federal Government.

They jumped from a convoy of 22 lorries ferrying them and were arrested in Wajir town last Friday. Since then they have been under tight security watch following claims that they were sympathizers of al-Shabaab militants.

While North Eastern Provincial Police Boss Leo Nyongesa was non-committal on the fate of the three arrested soldiers, sources told The Standard that the officers would be handed to Somalia TFG authorities to determine the nature of action.