- Closing the Durte mining centre in Kom division will affect thousands of residents who depend on the site for a living
- They are liaising with their Ethiopian counterparts across the border to tame any crossings by the goons who may be fleeing
A motorist carrying 15 people was shot and injured as he sped off to evade police enforcing curfew in the troubled Merti area in Isiolo.
Police said the incident happened Tuesday evening during curfew time.
The curfew runs from 6pm to 6am and is followed by a security operation.
The driver was found carrying 15 people, who included five Tanzanians.
They were driving from the Kom Durte mining area when police stopped the vehicle.
Eastern police boss Rono Bunei said the driver defied the orders prompting a brief chase and shooting that left the car’s tyres deflated.
The incident came a day after the government ordered an immediate ban on unlicensed mining activities in the Kom region of Merti subcounty.
A security operation is ongoing in the area to flush out criminals hiding in the mines.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the operation which will last for 30 days with the option of an extension, will run in tandem with a disarmament exercise targeting illegal guns and ammunition.
He said the National Security Council had decided to launch “Operation Rejesha Amani Marsabit” following incessant inter-ethnic attacks that have defied peace initiatives and the lapse of the 30-day window sought by county leaders to secure reconciliation.
It will be extended to Kom, Merti in Isiolo county.
“You may recall that just recently our security forces intercepted a huge cache of explosives in Merti. Those explosives were meant for Nairobi. They were being moved by a terrorist cell and that route has become worrisome to all of us over the recent years. I cannot count the number of times our police officers have disrupted planned terror activity that is being channelled through that route,” he said.
Special forces from different police units are among troops deployed to conduct a month-long operation for illegal guns and ammunition.
Further, they are liaising with their Ethiopian counterparts across the border to tame any crossings by the goons who may be fleeing.
The animosity between the Borana and Gabra communities has progressively boiled over, and Matiang’i has expressed concerns over political leaders who have frustrated previous attempts to pacify the area.
According to the CS, rival groups have been armed and transformed into competitive political militias meting out violence on innocent civilians in what has become one of the costliest security challenges in the country.
The operation by security teams drawn from the GSU, the Rapid Deployment Unit, the Quick Response Unit, and the Anti-Stock Theft Unit, among others, will also be extended to Sololo area where the suspected Oromo Liberation Front militias are active.
Two leaders from Isiolo have protested against the plan to close down a local mining site in one of the areas declared by police as a disturbed zone.
Instead, they want the security agencies to focus on flushing out bandits raiding various parts of the county, killing people and stealing herds of cattle.
Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa and Isiolo North MP Hassan Hulufo said closing the Durte mining centre in Kom division will affect thousands of residents who depend on the site for a living.
“We are aware there are external forces that have tried to close down the Durte mining centre in the past and may misdirect the security operation from flushing out bandits causing mayhem to innocent residents eking out a living from their community land,” Hulufo said.
“It is our considered view that declaration of Kom sublocation as disturbed areas will not provide a lasting solution to the insecurity problems in Kom division.”
The legislators said Durte mining is not illegal but an informal site that more than 3,000 residents depend on for a living.
“Durte is part of unregistered Waso Boran community land and the landowners are using basic tools and manual labour for excavation and extraction of minerals.”
They denied reports that proceeds from mining activities are being used to fund illegal activities, including bandit attacks in the county and beyond.
“We requested security operation to flush out the bandits from the neighbouring counties and fast-tracking of issuance of national police reservists guns,” Jaldesa said.
She said they have proposed to the government to set up a special and permanent GSU camp in Kom area as a long term deterrence against raiders from neighbouring counties.
-Edited by SKanyara