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Al Shabaab gang sparks fear of looming attack in Mandera

By Cyrus Ombati | October 14th 2019

Police in Mandera are on high alert following reports that about 20 suspected Al Shabaab fighters have been sighted in the region.

Police in Mandera are on high alert following reports that about 20 suspected Al Shabaab fighters have been sighted in the region.

The said militants, with a loaded donkey cart, were sighted at Bale-Ilman Mala, Kutulo on Friday night.

A security official aware of the incident said the suspected fighters and the loaded donkey cart were heading towards Garsesala Hills. Their cargo is suspected to include Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

“It is assessed that Al Shabaab militants could be planning to lay IED along the Eleram-Falama route and Elwak-Wajir road targeting security vehicles,” said a security brief. 

In September, 10 terrorists struck in the same area and killed eight officers. The gang used a rocket propelled grenade to strike on two armored personnel carriers. Up to 20 officers were wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 11 police officers killed in Garissa on Saturday were airlifted to Nairobi.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai were at Wilson Airport to receive the bodies of the officers from the General Service Unit (GSU).

The officers, who were based at the Harehare GSU camp, were out on patrol in Liboi when their Land Cruiser ran over an improvised explosive device believed to have been planted by the Al Shabaab.

Their vehicle was extensively damaged in the 4pm incident on the Damajale-Harehare road near the Kenya-Somalia border.

On Saturday, Mr Mutyambai said a joint patrol team comprising officers from Kenya Defence Forces, Administration Police, Rapid Response Police Unit and Kenya Police Service had been dispatched to the area to pursue the attackers.

This was the latest deadly attack targeted at security personnel operating in the region. More than 30 officers have been killed this year alone in separate incidents staged by the terrorists.

Garissa Governor Ali Korane condemned the Saturday attack.

“Saddened by the news of the deaths of police officers killed in an IED attack, I extend my condolences to their families, relatives and colleagues,” Mr Korane said in a statement.

Dr Matiang’i said he was saddened by the killings. “I extend my deepest sympathies and profound solidarity to the families of the gallant officers. Their selfless patriotic sacrifice to serve Kenya renews our resolve in the fight against terror,” he said.

Yesterday, leaders from Garissa called on the Government to change tack in the fight against Al Shabaab.

Reacting to the Saturday’s killings, the leaders called for tarmacking of roads locally, saying Al Shabaab took advantage of poor infrastructure to stage attacks.

Gallant officers

Addressing journalists in Garissa, Dadaab MP Mohamed Dahiye described the officers killed in the attack as gallant. He claimed Al Shabaab were staging the attacks to divert attention from their cross-border revenue streams.

“We stand with the families of those who lost their lives. We are also asking other officers deployed in other parts not to be discouraged by this act,” he said.

Dr Dahiye, accompanied by Liboi Ward Rep Hussein Ahmed, said the militants took advantage of poor condition of roads in the region to plant IEDs.

He said the militants were known to renew their attacks during rainy seasons and advised security teams to use foot patrols. [Additional reporting by Abdimalik Ismail Hajir]

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