The Somalia-based militancy group, the Al shabaab has once again reared in ugly head marked by a spate of fatal attacks ranging from staged Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) targeting security forces with the latest attack in Salama Village in Lamu County where at least five men were brutally headed yesterday evening.
The emerging trend majorly experienced in border counties notably Garissa, Madera, Wajir, Lamu and Marsabit have played out beginning this year and hot on the heels after the reopening of borders with the volatile Somalia at a time the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is undergoing massive drawdown of peace keeping forces by 2,000 officer in December this year.
Kenya is one of the ATMIS contributing force countries through the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
Yesterday night, five men were beheaded and many houses torched in an al Shabaab attack in Salama and Juhudi villages in Mkunumbi Division, Lamu County.
Witnesses and police said the attackers raided the villages at around 7.30 pm on Saturday, dragged the victims from their houses and tied their hands and legs with ropes behind their backs before executing them.
The victims of the Saturday night attack are all men, including a Form Three Student from Bakania Secondary School identified as Barack Hussein, 19.
Yester night’s horrific massacre reminiscent of the Mpeketoni attack where at least 124 men were slaughtered is said to have been executed by a group of over 30 men, armed with guns, machetes and knives struck early in the evening.
The assailants are reportedly said to have worn military regalia when they descended on the homes. They then ordered those present to lie down and not to raise alarm.
Women were led to different rooms and later let free. The attackers slaughtered the five and later stole some food items, chicken and goats before setting a store ablaze.
The killings come a week after eight Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers died along the border of Kenya and Somalia in yet another suspected terror incident.
The resurgence of attacks has exposed the country’s security at risk.
Mid last month, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said that the Mandera/Belet Hawo (Belethawa) boarder will be the first to be opened in the next 30 days.
This particular border point provides entry from the Kenyan side at Mandera County.
“In the second phase which is 60 days from now, we should be able to open the second border in Liboi-Harhar/Dhobley. This will provide entry from Gariisa county.” Kindiki said.
The third border point to be opened will be Kiunga/Ras Kamboni in Lamu.
Last week, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale said Kenya’s artillery requires upgrading, adding that the government will modernise Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and Police artillery in a renewed move to bring an end to Al shabaab terror attacks both in the country and the neighbouring Somalia.
He said the government will acquire the sophisticated equipment in the next three months, which will include armoured personnel carriers (APC) with ability to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along the areas under their command, adding that the equipment will go a long way to assist Police and the Kenya Defence Forces in the fight against Al-Shabab.
Many innocent Kenyans have lost lives in the wake of Al-Shabaab attacks while more others remain maimed by the atrocities masterminded by the dreaded militia group.
The deadly attacks have served to strain bilateral relations between the two neighbours, amid counter accusations over claims of weak security strategies.
In September 2013, armed Al shabab fighters stormed Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, firing indiscriminately at shoppers and killing 67 people in a siege that lasted 80 hours. The assault horrified the world and exposed weaknesses in Kenya’s security apparatus.
In November 2014, members of Somalia’s Al-Shabab armed group hijacked a bus in Kenya’s Mandera county and killed 28 non-Muslims on board in what was later believed to have been a revenge attack against what the group termed a ‘non-believer’ government fighting Muslims.
And in April 2015, Al-Shabaab launched yet another bloody assault on Garissa University College in Kenya, killing 148, mainly students.
In January 2016, fighters from the Somali armed group assaulted a Kenyan-run military base for African Union peacekeepers, killing scores of Kenyan soldiers.
In January 2019, twin explosions and gunfire heard at an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.
The attack on the Dusit D2 hotel complex in Nairobi’s Riverside area, which also housed offices and banks at the time, sent people fleeing for their lives.
There could still be armed assailants in the building and the police operation was ongoing, police sources reported.
At least 22 officers have died in the last two weeks in Garissa and Lamu counties while one suspected Al-Shabaab terrorist was arrested last Thursday along Garissa- Dadaab road by a multi-agency team.
Just last week, at least two Kenya Defence Forces troops were killed as they responded to an attack on a General Service Unit team in Lamu county.
At least 10 General Service Unit officers had earlier been injured when an armoured personnel carrier (APC) vehicle they were in ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) suspected to have been planted on the road by Al-Shabaab militants at Mlima wa Faru, between Pandanguo and Witu in Lamu County.
And in the latest incident, an IED emplaced on a public road at Elele, Mandera County exploded and destroyed a vehicle ferrying passengers to Takaba leaving four civilians dead and injuring six others.
The terrorist group continues to rig public roads in North Eastern region with deadly IEDs.
According to the Chairman of the Department of Diplomacy and International Studies at the University of Nairobi Dr. Patrick Maluki, erection of walls along the borders of countries is no solution to conflict in a world that is fast becoming a global village where people have to live in tolerance and harmony.
He said the plan of a wall between Kenya and Somalia is ill-conceived and anti-social, adding its removal is welcome to any right thinking person. He cited the wall between Israel and Palestine and the Berlin Wall as having achieved nothing.
Maluki noted that the borders should be open and instead local communities from both sides of the boundary be sensitized to see each other as brothers and sisters, adding that this approach will enable them to identify bad elements living among them, likening it to Kenya’s Nyumba Kumi initiative which he said stood to achieve positive results.
He added that common markets should be constructed along the border to encourage trading across the borders.
Citing the Ministry of Interior’s initiative to build schools along the borders between Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot counties to foster peace, Maluki suggested the same to be done on the Kenya-Somali border to promote cross-border integration among residents.
However, Maluki points out that such approach calls for goodwill from the two governments, through their various agencies, to make the local communities understand the need for peaceful co-existence.
Maluki contend that religious allegiance should not be a cause for division and negative perception, adding that religion is a matter of a person’s choice which should be respected.
He put the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on the spot, saying it has done little to take the gospel of harmony and integration, for which it was created, to the communities between Kenya and Somalia.