TERROR THREAT

Shabaab militants attack Wajir bus, rob crew and passengers

Witnesses said the gang first asked if there were any civil servants and non-natives on board.

In Summary

•The gunmen fired into the air once and ordered all passengers on board to alight before separating men from women.

• After failing to find any of the targets, they robbed the passengers of their food stuff and cash.

Al Shabaab militants during training at an unidentified location in Somalia.
Al Shabaab militants during training at an unidentified location in Somalia.
Image: FILE

Suspected al Shabaab militants robbed a bus conductor and passengers in an attack in Tarbaj, Wajir county.

Witnesses said the Almkaram bus was headed for Nairobi from Mandera on Tuesday afternoon when the gun men armed with rifles and rifle-propelled grenades stopped it in Darkut area.

The gunmen fired into the air once and ordered all passengers on board to alight before separating men from women. Witnesses said the gang asked if there were any civil servants and non-natives on board.

After failing to find any of the targets, they robbed the passengers of their foodstuff and cash. They also grabbed Sh40,000 from the bus conductor, warning him against carrying non-natives on the bus.

Police said another armed gang kidnapped three Kenyans in Banisa area, Mandera county. The victims were travelling in a four-wheel-drive car when they were attacked.

Police arrived at the scene moments later and engaged the gunmen in vain. Locals said the victims were still held hostage in the area. It is not clear if the attackers had crossed with them across the nearby Somalia border.

There have been fears of attacks in the area bordering Somalia in the past weeks. Northeastern regional police boss Rono Bunei said they had enhanced operations in the area to deter any plans by the terrorists.

“We continue to urge for cooperation from the locals to be able to address this menace even as we do our bit,” he said.

The militants have been targeting security installations in a series of attacks.

In December last year, al Shabaab militants abducted and beheaded a chief in Wajir county in a macabre attack. They had abducted a group of local security officials together with the chief before they released them and later killed the administrator.

The torso of assistant chief of Gumarey sub-location Omar Adan Buul was missing when the head was found on December 21. Militants have been roaming the area in the past two weeks, threatening large-scale attacks.

There are fears of more such attacks after dozens of the militants crossed into Kenya across the Garissa border. The gang was in three groups when they crossed into Kenya with an intention of attacks on security officials.

The border region has borne the brunt of repeated attacks from the militants who are at times aided by locals. Somalia has not had a stable government after the fall of Siad Barre in 1991.

The area is near the Somalia border and the militants usually cross at will and stage attacks before escaping back.

Al Shabaab has been attacking places in the region, especially Mandera and Garissa counties, after breaching security zones, leaving dozens of civilians and security officials dead and wounded.

The militants have been planting explosives on the routes used by the security agencies. More personnel have since been sent to the area and operations by the Border Patrol Unit heightened to tame the surge.

Kenyan troops are in Somalia to pursue and suppress the activities of the terror group.