No let up in terror attacks as security stepped up

Kenya has experienced terror attacks which have left scars on bodies and hearts of millions of people over the years.

However, one of the attacks in recent times was executed on January 15, last year, when the country endured 19 hours of horror which ultimately left 21 dead in an invasion of a luxury hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

And this week as we remember this horrific attack, we trace some of the country’s nasty encounters with terrorists, who have already staged three attacks in Lamu and Garissa’s Daadab.  

Since 1997, Kenya has suffered a series of terror attacks in which property was destroyed and people killed. Despite many interventions by the government, the attacks have never ceased.

The Al Shabaab militant group which has often claimed responsibility for attacks says it is retaliating Kenyan military presence in Somalia under Operation Linda Nchi.

With every attack, came promises by the government that it will institute measures to prevent terrorism in future and improve response to incidents.

Al Shabaab attacks started in 2011 after Kenya Defence Forces incursion into Somalia.

Attackers registered their presence when they hurled a grenade in a bar on Mfangano Street and another at County Bus Terminus in Nairobi, where five lives were reportedly lost.

The United States had warned of possible retaliations two days before they happened.

Although the attacks received condemnation from the government and the international community, it is other major attacks in later years that shook the country.

The September 21, 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi shook the country to its core when at least 69 people were killed and more than 170 others injured.

It exposed a country that was ill-prepared to counter terror attacks with critics making fun of government officials including the then Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku who at some point said smoke billowing from the building was an indication that “terrorists are burning mattresses.”

Delayed for hours

It was assumed that the government would live up to the pledge to improve response but it was not long before another incident caught the country flat footed.

It was the April 2, 2015 attack on the Garissa University College in northern Kenya where gunmen stormed the institution and killed 148 people dead and injured 70.

Kenyans took to social media to condemn what they felt was negligence especially after it was reported that the elite Recce Squad were delayed for hours before being dispatched.

One of the teams was even reported to have travelled via road despite the fact that the security department has planes at its disposal.

But even before the college attack, a year earlier, 48 people were killed when militants invaded Mpeketoni in Lamu and shot dead police and civilians.

It was also in 2014 when the militants killed more than 60 people in Mandera County.

In the same year on November 22, the attackers intercepted a bus heading to Nairobi from Mandera and killed 28 passengers.

Time drags on and the militants’ appetite for blood is insatiable, going by the latest attacks in several parts of the country. In December, ten people were killed in a bus in Kotulo between Wajir and Mandera.

In January, another bus was attacked and three people killed by terrorists along Lamu-Garsen Highway.

And the latest is last week’s attack of a military base run jointly by United States and Kenya in Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu where the number of casualties are shrouded in mystery.