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Al Shabaab now split in two and competing to show lethalness, IG Boinnet says

COUNTIES
By CYRUS OMBATI | December 24th 2015

Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants have split into two groups and now they are competing to demonstrate their thoroughness, Kenya security agencies have warned.

Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet revealed one group is now pledging allegiance to Islamic State while another one is supporting Al Qaeda.

The one supporting ISIS is operating in Lafey area near Mandera County while that behind Al-Qaeda is based in southern part of Kenya and within Boni Forest.

In his Christmas and New Year message, Boinnet said the new developments continue to pose a threat to Kenya and urged for vigilance amongst Kenyans in the festive season.

“They are competing to spread an international jihadist agenda, which could be deadly if and when it happens. They are injured and I urge Kenyans to exercise vigilance all times,” said Boinnet.

Speaking in Nairobi, Boinnet said there are about 100 militants who are operating in Northern part of the country and they keep crossing from Somalia to Kenya for attacks before they vanish.

He said the group that tried to hijack and attack a bus in El-Wak, Mandera on Monday was that of ISIS.

The attack aborted after a group of Muslims in the bus shielded Christians by refusing to be split and offering them hijabs and headscarves, which Boinnet described as heroic.

The Boni gang was recently spotted in the forest and more combined security teams have been deployed there.

Boinnet said the Mandera gang is led by Isaak Osman Ali alias Okola, Abdifata Barre and Mohamed Bilal while the Al-Qaeda gang is headed by Omar Ahmed Abdumanan.

“Many Kenyans who joined the terror group are supporting Al-Qaeda faction. They have been pushed by Amisom troops from deep Somalia and they are now operating at the Kenyan border.”

Boinnet said the Kenyan-born mastermind of the massacre of 148 people in Garissa Mohamed Kuno alias Gamadhere had joined a pro-ISIS faction.

Kenya recently offered a $215,000 (Sh21 million) reward for any information that may lead to Kuno’s capture.

Boinnet added Kenya security agencies have averted dozens of planned terror attacks in the country in the past year alone.

“Terrorism is still a threat to us and the region. But we have also improved in response,” he said.

He added that because security agencies collaborated in fighting crime, the country had made great strides in the war against terrorism.

He challenged citizens to play a role in counter-terrorism and prevention of criminal activities by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity, items and persons.

“Shopping malls, entertainment spots, restaurants and places of worship, buses and bus stops, airports, railway stations, ferries, drop-off points and learning institutions are potential soft targets,” he said.

Al Shabaab, which ruled much of Somalia for several years until 2011, was driven out of most urban centers by an offensive launched by African Union forces and Somali troops last year.

The gang has claimed dozens of terror attacks that have happened in Kenya since then claiming hundreds of lives.

Boinnet at the same time said they are determined to end gun crime in the country and warned those legally licensed to carry firearms not to misuse them.

He said 2015 had been relatively safe and saw many guests visit Kenya.

He cited the hosting of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July, which attracted thousands of investors.

Security was heightened when the government hosted United States President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia, Italian PM Matteo Renzi and the World Trade Organisation.

He said police have mounted operations in the country but warned that may not be enough hence need for vigilance.

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