Sunday, November 16, 2008


Imagine, for the fourth time in the recent past, armed Somali militiamen have crossed into the country, raided police stations and escaped with Kenyan Government weapons and vehicles.

In the last incident, just a week ago, they abducted two nuns who have since not been released.

Intelligence sources suspect that insurgents from the al Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab militia, who are fighting the Ethiopian-backed Somalia Transitional Federal Government and have taken over large parts of the war-torn country, are infiltrating Kenya.The insurgents are said to be suspected to be involved in the inter-clan fighting that has rocked North Eastern province in recent months although not proven that much.

It is for this reason that the military was deployed there to embark on a major weapons mop-up operation. The Kenyan military does not monitor the borders well and many of it's citizens complain of laxity in asserting control there.

In July last year, armed Somali militiamen crossed into Kenya from a remote Mandera outpost, In Northern Kenya, ambushed and abducted two police officers. The Kenyan Government grew weary of efforts to use elders to negotiate for the release of the two officers.Two days later, the officers’ mutilated bodies were found hanging from trees in a hilly area on the Somalia side of the border.Imagine Government police officers.

Then the Kenyan security agents ranted and threatened to cross into Somalia to avenge the officers’ killing, but it remained just that -- a threat.

In another attack later, Somalia militia in three vehicles raided Dedajabulla administration police camp about 20 km from the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa District, and rescued two terror suspects who had been arrested by police. The militiamen injured a police officer, stole a police vehicle and three guns after overpowering the security men. The suspected terrorists had been arrested in a Nairobi-bound bus posing as women. They were carrying satellite phones. The daring militiamen rescued their accomplices and drove back to Somalia. The Kenyan authorities began negotiations through elders to get back the vehicles. This was despite the fact that the military and both regular and administration police had been sent to Mandera to act on the aggression.

The militiamen then were suspected to be members of the al Qaeda linked Al -Shabaab group that has taken over control of large areas of Somalia including Gedi region that straddles the Kenya-Somalia border.

On September 7, 2008 the militiamen again raided Alungu administration police camp, in Mandera, killed two police officers and three civilians and stole four G3 rifles and over 200 rounds of ammunition. Last week’s attack on Elwak by the same group is causing concern within the intelligence and security services. Besides abducting the two nuns from the Elwak Catholic parish, the militiamen also robbed the local resident magistrate of his computer lap top, wristwatch and money. They also robbed two policemen of their jungle uniform and hijacked three government vehicles parked at the police station.

Until last week, security officers in Mandera had recovered six mortar bombs and 186 guns including 14 Bren machine guns, 82 Carbines, 42 G3 rifles, 22 AK-47 assault rifles, 11 Mark IV rifles, nine M16 rifles, six FN guns, two automax rifles and a hand grenade. It is said, All the weapons were sneaked into the country through the porous border by Somali militiamen from Gedo region who are asserting themselves in the area.

Sources privy to a joint police military operation in Mandera following the inter- clan fighting in which 21 people were reportedly killed said that the operation was sanctioned following intelligence reports about the involvement of Al-Shabaab fighters in the attacks.

The US Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden on Friday said that al Qaeda was working on revitalising its operations in Somalia. The US runs some counter intelligence humanitarian assistance in Mandera East and thus is privy to some sources.

He said that although al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is currently isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organisation, and that the CIA had curbed their activities in Phillippines, Indonesia, Saudi Arabi and Iraq, the group was showing increased activity in areas like Somalia.

This is evidenced by the recent takeover of towns in Central Somalia and coastal towns of Kismayu, Merca and regions on the Kenya-Somalia border.

Security expert Captain (rtd) Simiyu Werunga says that such acts of aggression, whether internal or external, if not dealt with are likely to encourage the attackers to continue killing with impunity. “It is not the first time these Somali militiamen are crossing into Kenya to kill and steal with impunity. If the attackers are collaborating with Al-Shabaab insurgents, then it is imperative that Kenyan security agents should deal with the situation assertively and protect Kenyans,” Captain Werunga says.

He says that the government should display a show of might to deter the attackers.

Captain Werunga says that once the attackers are pacified, the government should then beef up security in the area and maintain its presence there. The security agents should not be deterred by cries of human rights violations because the country’s security is paramount, he says.

The recent military operation in Mandera was condemned for its alleged brutality and torture of civilians but it served to stop the inter-clan killings.

What the country’s intelligence and security networks are not telling Kenyans is whether we are faced with a larger terrorist threat or even a severe attack from another country especially with the recovery in Mandera last week of six mortar bombs,186 firearms and 1,885 rounds of assorted ammunition.Only recently, a man was arrested as he transported 600 electronic detonators from Nairobi to Mandera.

Kenya's North Eastern province has been peaceful for the past 20 years after a nearly 4 decades of state emergencies after the Shifta War between Kenya and Somalis who wanted to join Greater Somalia. The Kenyan Government has severally been accused of abandoning the entire region as if not of Kenya. The infrastructure, The Schools, The Government programs says it all.