Insecurity remains the government’s Achilles heel, especially in Mandera and Garissa counties. The frequency of terrorist attacks in these two counties suggests that despite the presence of Kenya Defence Forces who moved to Somalia in 2011, the threat of Al Shabaab is far from being contained. Al Shabaab terrorists pick their targets and accomplish their atrocious acts with ease, then disappear.
Indeed, the situation is so bad that Mandera Governor Ali Roba, in an opinion published in The Standard yesterday, pointed an accusing finger at the national government.
Notwithstanding that there are enough security officers in Mandera, security lapses continue to endanger the lives of people in areas along the Kenya-Somalia border.
Al Shabaab militants have changed tack and now target security personnel, police vehicles and houses belonging to police reservists in the volatile areas. Several of the houses belonging to reservists have been torched in the recent past, which suggests that Al Shabaab has informers within the communities along the border with Somalia.
Last Sunday, Al Shabaab militants attacked an ambulance in Garissa, killing three people. That attack violated a UN stipulation that under no circumstances should ambulances and Red Cross vehicles be attacked.
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The fluid situation is made worse by Somalia and Jubaland forces engaging in fire-fight on the Kenyan side of Mandera town. Such blatant violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity should not be taken lightly.
It is unacceptable that legitimate Somalia soldiers and Al Shabaab militia from Somalia should turn Kenya into a battle zone and killing ground. While the government has chosen the path of diplomacy, it does not seem to work. The security of Kenyans cannot be compromised.
The need to step up measures to protect Kenyans who now live in fear of the unknown in their own country cannot be gainsaid. Our security services have no choice but to adopt proactive measures. The usual narrative that our security forces are going after the terrorists only after an attack should change.
The government must do everything to ensure that the two counties and the country at large is secure. Collaboration with other countries, especially those with superior intelligence gathering techniques, should help our security services go after Al Shabaab in their hideouts.