• The militants have been roaming over the expansive area in the past months, leaving a trail of destruction, especially of government installations.
• Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i downplayed claims of al-Shabaab militants dominating Northern Kenya.
A Special Forces team on Saturday intensified a crackdown on al Shabaab militants in Mandera and killed one gunman before capturing another in ambush.
The incident happened between Guticha and Olla, Mandera North. The militants have been roaming over the expansive area in the past months, leaving a trail of destruction, especially of government installations.
The Special Forces were deployed following increased attacks in which the gang has been targeting vehicles—especially public service ones—and vital installations. On January 19, the gang attacked and destroyed a communication mast in Sarman.
Police headquarters said more personnel had been sent to rid the region of the criminals. The captured militant is under interrogation. He told the officers they were about 50 militants. His other accomplices were still on the run.
On Tuesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary downplayed claims of Shabaab militants dominating Northern Kenya. He dismissed the claims as lies.
Whereas he acknowledged that the security threat in the area remains real because of its strategic location with war-torn Somalia, he said the situation is not as dire as a section of local politicians has alleged.
The CS said: “The investment we have made as a government in Northern Kenya and specifically in the war on terror speaks for itself.”
Matiang’i is set to meet area leaders soon over a security challenge that has disrupted the normal lives of residents and claimed scores of lives this year alone.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba had claimed the militants were controlling 50 per cent of highways in the border county, despite the heavy presence of security officers. The attackers have been targeting government officials and non-natives working in the area.
Matiang'i, however, said they are committed to dealing with the problem. “Some of those exaggerated comments, I will deal with them blow by blow when we have a security meeting with the rest of leaders from the region,” he said.
“Kenyans have nothing to worry about because some of those exaggerations are not true. The challenge and the reality of terrorism are going to be with us, and we cannot wish it away, but I don’t think we have a challenge to the scale that leader was speaking.”
The border region has borne the brunt of repeat attacks by the militants who at times are aided by locals. The attacks have disrupted education, forcing many non-native teachers to flee over safety concerns. Local leaders say some schools have yet to reopen nearly three weeks since those in other regions resumed learning.
The area is near the Somalia border and the militants usually cross at will and stage attacks before escaping back. Somalia has had no stable government after the fall of Siad Barre in 1991.
The militants breach security zones. They have killed and wounded dozens of civilians and security officials. Border patrols have been heightened to tame the surge. Kenyan troops are in Somalia to pursue and suppress the activities of the terror group.
Recent al-Shabab attacks in Mandera
October 6, 2020
A Mandera-bound bus (Makkah) attacked at Dabacity, four people injured
November 29, 2020
Police escort vehicle is hit by a landmine between Jabbibar and Rhamu, 18 injured.
December 2, 2020
IED hits and kills a boda-boda rider at Hagarsu
December 8, 2020
Anti-Stock Theft Unit camp at Elram is attacked. Attackers repulsed. No death or injuries
December 10, 2020
An empty truck of fuel attacked at Kamor Baau, one injured
December 12, 2020
On a road in Omar Jillow, KDF soldiers detect IED; it explodes prematurely, killing the engineer removing it
December 18, 2020
Safaricom mast at Elele near Wargadud is burnt
December 30, 2020
Mandera government is attacked; one killed, three injured. Ambulance burnt down.
January 11, 2021
Moyale Raha Bus is attacked; heavy exchange of fire, militants retreat.
January 12, 2021
Toyota Land Cruiser is hit by IED explosives in Derkale area. Three civilians abducted.
January 12, 2021
ALMUKARAM bus attacked. Gunmen separate men and women in search of non-natives. No injury.
January 13, 2021
Derkalle Safaricom mast is hit with an explosive.
January 15, 2021
A fire exchange between security officers and al-Shabaab militia at a water dam. Gang use civilian herders as shields. One civilian killed, another injured.
January 19, 2021
Gunmen destroy a communication mass in Serman area.