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State puts locals on notice over links to al-Shabaab attacks

Thursday July 6, 2023

Northeastern regional Commissioner John Otieno. Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Northeastern regional commissioner John Otieno on Tuesday put on notice al Shabaab sympathizers operating in the region saying the government will soon catch up with them.

Otieno said that the government was aware the rag-tag militia group have sympathizers across the region who feed them with information on the movement of security personnelto launchg attacks.

His warning comes as Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki embarked on a tour in the region amid sustained attacks by the terror group.

The tour will see the CS hold talks with local security and intelligence committees, leaders and residents with the main aim being to counter the attacks.

“The al Shabaab that are operating here are being supported by those from across our borders. But I want to put them on notice that we are closely closing on them. Anybody using his telephone we will catch up with them,” he said.

Briefing the press in his Garissa office on the security status in the region, Otieno said that the government is working closely with mobile telephone operators to nab those relaying information to the al-Shabaab within and outside the country.

“We have put the necessary mechanisms in place to deal with the al-Shabaab threat. I want to give an assurance that within a very short time, the stories that we are hearing will be a thing of the past,” he said.

The region has experienced a spate of attacks mostly targeting security personnel patrol vehicles. Several officers have lost their lives.

So serious is the al shabaab issues that leaders from the three counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa together with the regional security committee have held a series of meetings to deliberate on the best way forward to deal with the al Shabaab menace.

The regional commissioner who was flanked by top region and county security committee  emphasized that the Government was determined to rid the region of the al Shabaab menace.

The RC regretted that the militants were only using one tactic of placing IEDs on security personnel supply routes saying that locals have a very big role to play in giving this information before they plant the deadly objects.

“I want to urge residents to volunteer actionable information to the security personnel that will assist in apprehending the al Shabaab sympathizers and their operatives,” he said.

“We have heavily deployed security personnel from all formations and they are doing a wonderful job. We have also been engaging with elected leaders, religious leaders, peace committees and the entire members of the public,” he said.

His remarks come barely two weeks after Defence CS Aden Duale  said the government has enough human intelligence and will monitor each and every communication especially those locals collaborating with the enemy.

Meanwhile,the RC has said that the security apparatus were closing down on arresting the gang that was involved in incident in Bulamzuri sub location, near Kunaso where one person identified as Ahmed Dekow Tohow Hilowle was shot dead.

During the Monday evening incident, the gang arrived and started shooting indiscriminately  with a senior security official confiding to he Star that the incident was related to a land tussle.

The assailants, whose identities remain unknown, unleashed a hail of bullets, causing panic and chaos within the community.

"These are criminals and we are going to deal with them firmly. We are going to make sure that there is heavy deployment of security not only in the area but any other part of this town so that people can go on with their business without fearing for their lives or property," he said.