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Driver shot dead by 'al-Shabaab' suspects near Mandera town
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Suspected Al-Shabaab militias on Sunday evening shot dead a Kenyan driver in northern Kenyan town of Mandera, before escaping with the vehicle towards Somalia.

Regional deputy police commander, Noor Gabow on Monday confirmed the incident which he said took place along Arabia and Mandera town after 10 armed militia attacked the driver from the mobile phone firm, Safaricom at around 19:00hrs local time (1600GMT).

Gabow said a combined security forces were already on the ground pursuing the militias and the car that they escaped with.

"We don’t want to speculate about the identities of the suspects.

"For now we want to treat this incident as a mere banditry, we are sure we will catch up with them," Gubow told journalists in Garissa.

"It is not going to be business as usual as we try to eliminate these individuals whose sole aim is to harm and kill innocent Kenyans.

"We will do everything to flash them out from their hideouts and ensure that our roads are once again safe for everybody," added Gabow.

The regional deputy police commander said the militia who were armed with AK 47 riffles attacked the Safaricom vehicle as it was coming from Arabia and heading to Mandera town.

The authorities have called on Kenyans to be vigilant over terror attacks because of higher numbers of foreign fighters who sneaked into the country.

The security agencies have also been on higher alert after intelligent reports hinted that Al-Shabaab terrorists are escaping into the East African nation as the operation to rout the insurgents from Somalia gains momentum.

Sources in Mandera said the men who had hidden themselves in a nearby bush ambushed the van spraying it with bullets and in the process shot dead the driver.

"The occupants of the vehicle had just left Arabia town at around 7pm after iftar (Muslims evening meal after fasting), it had a driver and three other occupants who were Administration Police Officer escorting it, after about 10 minutes after it had left we heard gun shots.

"When we rushed to the place that is about 10 km, we found a lifeless body of the driver lying on the ground, the 3 officers were nowhere to be seen, the vehicle was also not there," the source told Xinhua on Monday.

He said it seemed the security officers were overpowered by the militias and decided to flee. They all escaped unhurt.

"It is like these Al-Shabaab militia were only interested with the vehicle and they knew very well that it would use the same route to go back to Mandera as they had seen it go to Arabia earlier in the day," he said.

"Their target was to shoot the driver which they did so as to get the vehicle.

"They then disappeared with it towards Somalia which is 10 km from where the incident took place," added the source himself a local elder from Arabia.

The incident comes barely two weeks after two police officers were seriously injured when they were attacked a few kilometers from where the latest incident took place.

Two officers including the driver were seriously injured in the attack.

The Mandera East deputy divisional police commander, Michael Mbaluka who was also in the car escaped unhurt.

The northern region has been subjected to successive bomb and grenade attacks by Al-Shabaab operatives and their sympathizers following the onslaught by the Kenya soldiers on them in October last year.

Kenya has witnessed several hit-and-run bomb and grenade attacks in recent months in the capital, Nairobi, and in northern Kenya and Mombasa port city.

The Kenyan authorities often blame such attacks on Al-Qaida- affiliated Al-Shabaab rebels from neighbouring Somalia.

The East African nation launched cross border incursion into Somalia last October in pursuit of the militants blamed for a series of grenade and landmine attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa and northern region.


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