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Concern over lax security at joints earmarked for repeat terror attacks

THE COUNTIES
By By BENARD SANGA | October 12th 2013

By BENARD SANGA

As Kenya recovers from the Westgate terror attack, fears are  emerging over security laxity in highly populated areas in Mombasa mentioned in intelligence reports as likely targets of repeat terror attacks.

At  the Likoni channel, which was mentioned in the recently leaked spy agency reports as highly targeted area by the terrorist, there are no visible security measures.

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) managing director Musa Hassan said that they had submitted a proposal to the police detailing the required security arrangement on the channel.

No frisking

“I get security briefs from the area police. They have assured me security has been beefed up,” said Hassan in a telephone interview.

But Joash Onsombi, a trader who crosses the channel every day from Likoni area to Kongowea market, says security on the facility was beefed up immediately after the terror attack at Westgate but fizzled out a few days after.

“Whenever there is a terror attack police are active but after some days everything goes back to where they were. There is no strict frisking of people crossing the channel,” said Onsombi.  

More than 200,000 people and 5,000 motorists cross the channel every day but a spot check by The Counties indicates there are no security checks on both sides.

The leaked security reports indicated that the Al Shabaab movement, blamed for the recent Westgate attack was plotting major terrorist bombings in Mombasa and across the Coast region for years.

The briefs seen by The Counties indicate that Al Shabaab has established cells in Mombasa complete with operatives to launch bomb raids and suicide missions on government buildings, churches, shopping malls and to assassinate politicians in Mombasa, Kwale, Voi, Mwatate and Lamu.

Explosive expert

The National Intelligence Services (NIS) indicates the attacks were to be coordinated by Maalim Khalid, aka Maalim Kenya, believed to be behind several attacks in the Coast region including the grenade attack at club Bellavista on May 15 last year, Machakos Country Bus and Assanands house in Nairobi.

Khalid, a Kenyan explosives and martial arts expert, according to the spy agency’s briefs, had selected and trained 20 youths to carry out attacks that would damage the country’s economy, assassinate unidentified political and security leaders in the country.

 “He selected Kenyans in groups of 10, were trained at Marka and Barawe in driving, use of pistols, grenades, establishing and utilising safe houses, escape and evasion tactics and effective use of communication gadgets,” said the NIS Situation Report serial No.184/2012 dated September 21, 2012.

Some of the installations that were targeted are the oil pipeline network along Mombasa-Nairobi highway at Mazeras, Samburu and Mtito Andei. The NIS reports disclose that the attack on the pipeline was to reinforce another one at Changamwe Oil Refinery.

The spy agency believed that by December last year, the Al Shabaab insurgents had reactivated their cells, particularly in Mombasa and Malindi.

Contacted, Mombasa County Police Commander said region’s security team had been on high alert to avert any attacks.

  “We know that Mtopanga cell had been activated and four Al Shabaab operatives had planned to carry out attacks but we are trucking them,” said Mombasa County Police Commander Robert Kitur in an earlier interview.

Shaban Namusenda Makotse, associated with a grenade attack in Likoni in October, last year transported assortment of arms from Ifo Refugee Camp to Mombasa.

 Makotse was later killed by the police in Majengo, Mombasa.

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