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Delayed police response to Mombasa attack shameful

EDITORIAL
By Standard Reporter | August 8th 2019

The police should be put on the carpet over the shocking gang attack in Kisauni on Monday.

That a gang of 30 men could terrorise people for three hours, a stone’s throw away from a police post, beggars belief. The machete-wielding youths are said to have been in three groups, each comprising 10 men.

One of the attacks happened only 100 metres from Kazandani police post. Another took place about 200 metres from a chief’s camp.

While the officers in these relatively small facilities could have been afraid to take on the big number of attackers, it is hard to comprehend why help did not come swiftly from Bamburi Police Station, which is about one kilometre away.

Victims of the attack told The Standard they called police stations for help “until they grew tired”.

By the time the officers showed up, 13 people had been injured by the goons. This attack raises pertinent questions. Why did police take hours to respond? Did they have intelligence on the attack?

There are claims the police response was partly hobbled by lack of vehicles. Some officers are said to have arrived in a tuk tuk, while another group came in a vehicle it had commandeered. In fact, those who called the police station said the officers told them they had no vehicles at their disposal. So, what happened to police vehicles?

If it takes police three hours to respond to a crime next door, one shudders to imagine what would have happened had the attackers struck 100km away.

And is it possible police did not get wind of the impending attack? If they did not, then they were asleep at the switch all along. Why? Because Kisauni is a tinderbox. As criminal gangs keep on striking and sprouting there, one would expect police to have informers in every corner of the constituency, and Mombasa as well. If the police had their feelers out, it would have been hard to miss out this attack.

That an attack of this magnitude could catch security officers off-guard, and when it came they responded at the speed of a snail, is a serious indictment of the police service. Police failed Kisauni residents at their hour of need.

The attack should serve as wake-up call for police boss Hillary Mutyambai. He must now put his house in order. He should also separate the wheat from the chaff. Importantly, he should tighten the loose ends to avert preventable attacks like this one. Police can and must do better.

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