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Outrage as shallow grave with 12 bodies found in Mandera

By Standard Team | December 8th 2015 at 09:24:52 GMT +0300

Eleven MPs from Mandera and Wajir counties yesterday reacted angrily to the discovery of a mass grave at Lethe in Arabia Ward within Mandera East constituency.

The shallow grave with 12 bodies, including a woman's, has sparked fears of a return of extra-judicial killings in an area where police and military forces have been battling Al Shabaab militants.

Speaking at a press conference at Parliament Buildings, the leaders condemned the incident and asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta should take this matter seriously by forming an independent team to investigate the issue immediately, failure to which we will call upon the ICC and UN to investigate because this is a crime against humanity," said Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow.

In Mombasa, Haki Africa Rights group demanded a probe of the alleged mass grave in Mandera and announced that it suspects there are other mass graves in Tsavo National Park in Taita Taveta County.

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Local residents in Arabia told The Standard that herdsmen stumbled on the suspected burial site on Sunday. Their curiosity was aroused by the fact that although raised heaps of earth resembled a burial site, there were no known residents in that area.

Besides, whoever prepared the grave appeared to have been ignorant of the Islamic way of excavating a burial site.

This prompted the herdsmen to report the matter to local authorities who brought in health officials who dug up the site and found the bodies.

A man yesterday identified the woman's body as that of Isnina Mohamed, 45, a single mother of five, claiming she was his sister who has been missing from her restaurant at Arabia trading centre since last Thursday.

By yesterday afternoon, the other bodies had not been identified but there were reports most of the corpses are suspected to be of victims picked from Mandera and Arabia, about 30km away.

Yesterday, political leaders and human rights groups demanded the suspension of all top security officers in Mandera County and formation of a commission to investigate the matter.

The leaders from Northern East region linked the killings to Kenya Defence Forces, which they also claimed was operating a detention camp inside their barracks in the area.

"Three months ago, 11 bodies were found in a shallow grave in Wajir town. Every week, we have reports of people disappearing, others killed and left for the hyenas to feed on. This is unacceptable," said Kerrow.

Kerrow said it was the Government's responsibility to protect its citizens and called for independent investigations into the killings.

Police Spokesperson Charles Owino said investigations had started, and appealed to the public to volunteer any leads to security agents.

"No person has reported anything to us on mass graves. Let them officially report to us for forensic investigations to be carried out and victims identified according to the law," he said.

Mr Owino, however, emphasised that anybody found to be behind the killings will be held personally liable.

"If we find conclusive proof that anyone from the disciplined forces was involved in the killings, they will face the full force of the law," he said.


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