GARISSA, Kenya, Nov. 13 — Kenyan authorities said on Tuesday they are holding 11 terror suspects including a key mastermind behind a spate of bomb and grenade attacks in the northern part of the East African country.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohammed said the key suspect was arrested on Tuesday in Garissa town near the border with Somalia, following tip off from the members of the public. The 10 others were arrested in the past week.
“The police today arrested a key terror suspect who has been causing harm to Garissa residents. The man is behind all terror attacks on churches and policemen in Garissa town and its environs, ” Mohammed told Xinhua by telephone on Tuesday.
“The man was also behind the killing of a businessman in Garissa town last week and three witnesses have also identified him as the key suspect behind insecurity in Garissa,” he added.
The government administrator said the key suspect is being interrogated for several crimes committed in the recent past in the region.
“We want him to tell us where he has been taking all firearms from the injured or killed policemen. We want him to tell us who are his collaborators and then arraign him in court later this week,” Mohammed said.
He said some of the criminals in custody could be behind very deadly attacks including the killing of 17 worshippers at AIC, a chaplain of the “Utawala” interdenominational church, and a police officer on patrol in Garissa last week.
Kenya’s northern region particularly Garissa County has of late witnessed a spate of grenade and gun attack on innocent Kenyans, refugees and the police over the past month which are seen as retaliatory attacks from the embattled Al-Shabaab militias in Somalia since the capture of the port city of Kismayo.
Kenyan security forces have repeatedly accused local residents in the restive region of either harboring members of Al-Shabaab or participating in the attacks, and have repeatedly carried out several operations against local residents.
Mohammed said the arrests follow a series of community peace meetings with faith based organizations, youths and women representatives.
He said the recently formed anti-bandit squad on Tuesday also killed the most wanted bandit in Garissa who was behind the murder of Safaricom engineer on Oct. 16.
“The anti-bandit squad made up of joint security forces shot dead the most wanted bandit in Garissa today following a major battle. The man who is behind insecurity in the region is behind the killing of Safaricom engineer in October. He is currently in the mortuary at Ifo in Dadaab district,” Mohammed said.
He said the deceased allies managed to escape with injuries but the authorities have launched a major manhunt for them.
“We have appealed to members of the public to volunteer information that may lead to their them and anybody found treating the suspects will be treated as criminal,” Mohammed warned.
The gunmen ambushed Patrobas Nyamboga, Safaricom engineer, on Oct. 16 as he was carrying out regular maintenance on Safaricom’s base stations in Kulan area, about 50 km from Liboi town near the border with Somalia.
The deceased was in the company of four other staff members were on his way to a Safaricom mask to refuel it.
Maalim said the government was committed to pursuing criminals in their hideouts and asked local government officials to keep a “residents” register that will assist in identifying strangers in their areas of jurisdiction.
“These criminals hire up to three houses, it becomes extremely difficult to truck them as they keep on changing residences, I call upon chiefs and residents to assist us in apprehending them because if you hide them we will treat you as a criminal too,” he said.
He directed landlords to keep a record of their clients by taking their Identification Card (ID) and mobile numbers as this will help in reducing crime as the chiefs were also directed to be inspecting the registers.
He blamed some locals for assisting criminals acquire identity cards warning that the government will commence investigations on fraudulently acquired identification documents.
“We are going to snatch such illegally acquired documents and take necessary legal actions to persons assisting these aliens,” said Mohammed.
His remarks came amid reports that thousands of aliens from Somalia had acquired IDs with assistance from the locals.
More than 30 security officers and dozens of civilians have been killed, many maimed and property worth millions were destroyed in Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Nairobi and Mombasa since the Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia in bid to forestall dangers facing from threats of Al-Qaida linked Al-Shabaab.
Kenya says the deployment of her troops in the southern regions have so far helped to prevent the movement of explosives to the strategic towns of Husingo and Badhade, the conduit points for the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the counterfeit electronics and contraband sugar smuggling across the region.
Military officials said these regions are crucial to the stabilization of Kenya’s coastal and northeastern provinces, which have been targeted by attackers preying on soft civilian targets.