Mandera governor wants residents recruited to fight against Shabaab

Mandera Governor Mohamed Adan Khalif. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Mandera Governor Mohamed Khalif wants the government to recruit and arm residents so they can help in the fight against al-Shabaab.

Khalif who spoke in Wajir on Thursday, July 20, lamented that the militia’s presence in the region has been increasing steadily as they now occupy more than half of the landmass of counties on the border of Kenya and Somalia.

“The al-Shabaab is no longer a ragtag group as their criminal activities in the region continue to increase by the day. I can confirm the insurgents are in control of a vast land of North Eastern counties," said Khalif.

The governor said the militia is controlling up to 60 per cent of Mandera’s landmass. Khalif said he believes the only solution remaining to flush them out is to recruit and arm the locals, hinting at the possible recruitment of the various clan militias to fight against the Islamist group.

Terror-linked group

"We need residents to be recruited to flush them out otherwise we will not succeed in this fight against the terror-linked group," said the governor.

He blamed worsening insecurity in the region on poor coordination among the various state security agencies.

“This has seen the spread of the criminal activities of al-Shabaab. I am not able to deliver my pre-election pledges to residents of my county because of insecurity. My government is unable to deliver services outside the headquarters also because of impassable roads, whose poor state has massively been contributed by insecurity,” Khalif said.

The county boss who spoke after attending a security meeting in Wajir said fears for the safety of residents whom he said have suffered for many years because of the many challenges they face, including insecurity.

Suffered consequences

“Some of them are afraid of sharing information about the presence of al-Shabaab because they have always suffered the consequences of doing so,” the governor said, adding; “Residents cannot share out such information because they will also be targeted as there is no proper coordination among our security agencies in the efforts to flush out the militant group.”

The governor called on the government to reopen the Somalia border. He said the insurgents are also collecting revenue from the resident in the counties near the border.

"We should not surrender to al-Shabaab. Let us also not postpone reopening our borders because by so doing, we are giving in to their demands. And they will continue collecting money from our people as they establish their criminal agenda in the area" Khalif said.

On July 14, 2023, the insurgents attacked Wargadud Police Station in Mandera South and killed three people. They later razed down the police station and houses and carjacked a police Landcruiser after burning down another one.