Monday, November 17, 2008


The military is ready to venture into Somalia if the militia, who abducted a Kenyan driver and two Italian nuns, fail to return them. Army Spokesman Bogita Ongeri said they had assembled the necessary equipment and logistics in Elwak and other areas in readiness for action.Mr Ongeri said they were waiting for the outcome of negotiations initiated by local elders to have the three returned safely.

"We are ready to act as at when required. We are giving negotiations a chance before we move to the next level that could be to pursue the militias," addig that they had secured Elwak town and its environs as preparations for a major "exercise". "If we are asked by the commanders to move in, we will do so."

Tension continued to mount in the area as more security personnel were flown there to help in the search for the three. Witnesses said they had seen several military choppers hover in the area. Others said Army vehicles are stationed there. A Somali official had appealed to Kenya to help track them down, when it emerged that the gunmen, who kidnapped the nuns from the border town, were taking them deeper into Somalia.

Tens of security personnel were driven and flown to the area following the Sunday night attack.
The pair and driver were seized in a pre-dawn raid by scores of attackers who stormed the small town, firing wildly and launching a rocket at a police post. They then escaped across the border in hijacked vehicles. Deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said the officers would stay in the area to beef up security and help trace the nuns.

The abducted nuns’ missionary group, the Movimento Contemplativo Missionario Padre de Foucauld, identified them as Ms Caterina Giraudo, 67, and Ms Maria Teresa Olivero, 60. The driver is yet to be identified. The abduction came just days after security personnel scaled down a major operation to seize illegal firearms and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti visited the region. In an interview with The Standard, North Eastern PC Josephat Maingi affirmed the Government’s commitment to secure the release of the nuns.

"The Government has enlisted the support of elders from Elwak to negotiate with their counterparts across the border so as to quickly and safely return the two and the three vehicles stolen by the militiamen during the midnight raid," he said. The PC could not however confirm the exact location and the condition of the hostages.

"The only information we have now indicates that the two nuns and the vehicles are being held at a secret location more the 100kms from the Kenyan border," Maingi said.

He also added that the Government had beefed up security along the border with Somalia so as to deter similar attacks in future.