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Garissa police 'knew of plan to attack AP camps'

The Star (Nairobi)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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Details are emerging of the security lapse which led to the twin Saturday attacks in Garissa County which led to the death of five people.

On Saturday evening, a 50-man heavily armed Al Shabab gang, who claimed responsibility on their Twitter account, crossed over into Kenya, and launched a simultaneous attack on the AP camp in Damajaley village and a border patrol unit police camp at Abdi Sugow village in Liboi.

According to the Garissa Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims secretary general Abdullahi Salat and Hamud Sheikh, a member of the Garissa county peace committee, prior information of the impending attack was availed to the government two weeks before it happened.

“Transitional Federal Government forces inside Somalia tracked the assailants as they ferried weapons in a convoy of nearly 30 donkeys up to the Kenyan border some two weeks ago,” said Salat.

He said suspicion arose following the declaration on the BBC Somali radio service by an Al Shabab spokesman who confirmed that their fighters had crossed into Kenya and will soon strike.

Sheikh added that information about the new arrivals was issued by participants during a peace forum attended by the top security chiefs in the county held at a Garissa hotel a week ago. 

At the Damajaley AP camp, which only has nine administration police officers, only six officers were around, as two were away on escort duties while the senior sergeant in charge of the camp was away on leave.

The militias were also planning to attack Dif and Dadajabula administration police posts in Wajir south but failed to do.

Questions are also emerging as to why it took the military personnel based at Liboi which is less than 15 Km away to arrive and secure the two camps.

As usual, the government that has become reactive to security matters, dispatched deputy Inspector Generals Grace Kaindi and Samuel Arachi to Damajaley, where they promised ‘to leave no stone unturned’ in apprehending the militants who had long found their way back to Somali after accomplishing their mission.

Nadhif Jama, the Garissa County governor, speaking after chairing a peace forum with local leaders from the county, took issue with the manner in which the security forces were found flat-footed by the assailants.

“It’s sad that a battalion of heavily armed militia crossed into our country and undetected and did whatever they wanted for over five hours without our security machinery confronting them,” an agitated Jama said.

While terming it as ‘a show of extreme laxity’ from the government, Jama called on the security personnel to stop working in isolation but instead work with the locals if it wanted to succeed in the war against terror in the troubled County.

“It is not acceptable that every other week in Garissa County we hear of attacks and killings meted on innocent civilians as if the government was absent on the ground; something is wrong and we have to dig deep within ourselves if we are to return sanity in this region,” added Jama.

The governor decried the frequent insecurity incidents in the county saying that it was chasing away potential investors.

“While other counties are busy marketing themselves and wooing investors both locally and internationally, us, we are busy tackling insecurity. Surely, which investor would want to put his money in a flaring region?” Jama posed

His sentiments were echoed by Ambassador Yunis Maalim Mahat, former Kenya ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the former Dujis MP Hussein Maalim who denied rumors that the insecurity plaguing the County was as a result of a spill-over of Somalia politics into the region.

Garissa County has borne the brunt of retaliatory Al Shabaab attacks since Kenyan troops crossed over into Somalia in late 2011 in pursuit of the Al Shabaab militia who were blamed for a series of attacks and kidnappings in the country.

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