Somalia
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Leaders in N Eastern unite in war on terror


by GORDON OSEN
Monday July 24, 2023


The wreckage of the vehicle that was destroyed by an Improvised explosive device in Arabia, Mandera
Image: FILE:

Al Shabaab has disrupted services in Northeastern and Coastal areas, prompting leaders to combine efforts to tame the group.

Addressing a joint meeting in Wajir last week, Lamu East MP Ruweida Obbo said the outlawed group has hurt the normal lives of residents.

“All roads are blocked by the security operation, meaning that people cannot move freely,” she said.

Present were the governorc of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, local MPs as well as administration a nd security officials led by Northeastern regional commissioner John Otieno.

The leaders resolved to combine political and security strategies to ensure residents do not harbour any sympathy for the outfit.

Obbo said teachers have to get a security escort to go to work.

This affects schooling, which makes young men vulnerable for recruitment into the terror group, the legislator added.

Recruitment of locals is also a headache in Northeastern, the leaders said.

They urged the state to revamp investment in the region to ensure unemployed youth do not become easy prey for the group.

“The group has a field day in luring the despondent youth into its ranks or as sympathisers,” Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi said.  

In Wajir, al Shabaab’s presence and infiltration is low compared to Mandera, Garissa and Lamu, security officials said.

Only one constituency, Tarbaj, out of six has reported a sighting of the group’s fighters and also experienced attacks for the last two years.

However, the security bosses said, last week, the group took over Gerille town at the border of Wajir East and Somalia, 12km from the border.

This came after KDF handed over the FOB to Somalia National Army as part of the ATMIS drawdown plan.

Garissa Governor Nadhif Jama told the meeting they should scale up their lobbying of the national government to increase coordination with the devolved units in security matters.  

More resources in sharable revenue should follow in this strategy, he said, citing his experience in responding to the 2015 Garissa University terror attack in which more than 140 students were killed.

The leaders said they want residents roped into the fight against the group by recruiting them into the security apparatus.

The security officials should also cultivate a good relationship with the locals for ease of information sharing and intelligence gathering and also to wean them off sympathising with the fighters.

“Our people must be told that al Shabaab are not our people,” Abdullahi said.

“They are not fighting for Islam. They are injuring us and we must not accept anything from them.”

The leaders also called for revamping the national police reservists by giving them suitable equipment that meet the enormity of the threat they face.

The reservists should also be properly remunerated and supported to be a standby quick reaction force and to effectively deal with the group.

Regional commissioner Otieno acknowledge that the situation on the ground was worsening but that the security apparatus were up to the task and that the government guarantees the region of its safety.