Military deployed to northern Kenya to demine roads

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The site of an explosion in Mandera on May 24, 2017. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The military was on Thursday deployed in parts of northern Kenya to demine roads after 20 people, including 11 police officers were killed in explosions in the area.

Several suspects, including one believed to be the bomb expert behind the wave of explosions, now in the third week, have been arrested and are being held by police.

On Thursday, two police officers were killed and three others wounded when their vehicle ran over an explosive at the border town of Kulan, Garissa.

Four others were buried in Mandera, following a similar attack targeting the campaign convoy of Governor Ali Roba in which five officers died on Wednesday.

In Muthwani, Matungulu another family was mourning the other officer killed in the explosion.

Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said the troops would work with police and other security agencies to clear explosive devices planted on roads by al-Shabaab.

“It’s a tedious process but Kenya Defence Forces have been deployed with mine sweeping equipment and are already in operation. It’s a collaboration between key security agencies to ensure we don’t suffer more casualties,” he said.

The suspected bomb maker was found with an AK-47 rifle, four mobile phones, dry battery cells and bomb making materials.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet identified one of the suspects as Ahmed Abdi Yare.

He said in a statement that while security forces “have managed to prevent majority of al-Shabaab militants from infiltrating the country, a few had managed to sneak through the porous border and are responsible for the latest attacks”.

The police boss also said besides the terrorists, his officers were also looking for “collaborators”.

“We are also investigating other lines of inquiry that suggest the attacks could be linked to racketeering in contraband and other crimes. As we approach Ramadhan, there is likelihood that terrorists might subvert tenets of the holy month by staging other attacks in their vain endeavour to seek martyrdom,” said Mr Boinnet.

Mr Njoka said armoured personnel carriers for police were deployed in other areas that were deemed volatile at the time but the militants chose where there are soft targets.

North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said police have arrested “several” suspects and are following multiple leads.

“They have been weakened by Amisom operations in Somalia, they (al-Shabaab) are now running to Kenya along the porous border that they are now planting explosives in isolated roads, but we’re telling them we will destroy them,” said the administrator.

Council of Governor’s Chairman and Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok asked the national government to beef up security in the counties.

COMMUNITY POLICING

In addition, he said, laws on community policing should be fully implemented to involve locals in security matters.

Mr Nanok said it was shameful that the Mandera governor had been targeted seven times without the national government considering safety measures for him.

“At one point Mr Roba asked to be provided with enough security but those responsible ignored that … it is the right time for all governors to be given extra security,” he said in Nairobi.

Speaking at the same function, Mr Roba said: “I have been with all these officers for four years and their death is the worst experience in my life ever.”

The governor announced that despite the heavy loss, he would continue with his campaign to ensure he is re-elected on August 8.

“So many vehicles had passed the scene before us, but only my car was targeted, only for security to be blown up, meaning someone was behind this, targeting me,” said Mr Roba.

He also blamed lack of communication along the Mandera-Lafey-Elwak road for the attack.

“It is now a year since communication masts were destroyed by the militants in this county and Safaricom is telling us it is too expensive to repair as the national government seems not to care to find out how important communication is,” said the governor.

Mr Roba also wants roads in his county paved to reduce cases of improvised explosive devices attacks.

Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi said insecurity was on the rise in the entire north eastern region.

‘VERY SECURE’

“We want the national government to do things differently and ensure we are very secure,” he said.

Mr Abdullahi said it was a bad idea to send KDF into Somalia since terror attacks in Kenya had increased.

“KDF are in Somalia but the al-Shabaab are here making us a buffer zone, we can’t use our roads, there is no tranquillity and stability in our towns,” he said, challenging security managers to tell the public what percentage of security personnel and equipment is in the northern counties.

He accused the Communication Authority of Kenya of denying other parties funds to erect communication masts in the country.

“If we don’t repair the masts, it shows we have conceded defeat to al-Shabaab in our own land,” he said.

Five MPs also expressed concern that the General Election might be affected by increased insecurity.

“It will be very difficult to hold elections in the region if the current trend of insecurity increases,” said Mr Adbulaziz Farah of Mandera East, speaking on behalf of his colleagues.

The MPs called on the government to increase the number soldiers in the region.

Report by Fred Mukinda, Abdimalik Hajir, Manaseh Otsialo, Stephen Muthini and Samwel Owino.

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Kenya

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