Governor warns of more Kenya attacks, faults police over Mandera incidents

Police officers stand next to a vehicle that was in Governor Ali Roba's convoy and was damaged after an improvised explosive device blew up in Mandera Town on October 15, 2014. Mandera governor has warned that there could be more terror attacks in the country soon. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Mr Roba’s worries could be justified as most of the suspects involved in the previous major attacks in the country were said to have entered the country through Mandera.
  • He took issue with what he said was a police move to downplay the 10 terror attacks that had occurred in his county in the last 40 days.
  • The governor singled out Mandera county commander Noah Mwivanda’s statement that the twin explosions in the town three days ago were caused by business rivalry.

A governor has warned that there could be more terror attacks in the country soon.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba on Friday said there was intelligence that Al-Shabaab militants from cells in Somalia were heading to Kenya.

He took issue with what he said was a police move to downplay the 10 terror attacks that had occurred in his county in the last 40 days, instead of taking firm measures to contain them.

“Judging from the terror incidents in Mandera over the last 40 days…there have been 10 attacks there’s no doubt terror cells in Somalia have firmly infiltrated into the country.

"It is, however, unfortunate that police in Mandera are downplaying the situation of increased terror attacks,” Mr Roba, a pilot by profession and who was elected on a URP ticket, said.

Mr Roba told the Nation on phone that intelligence reports indicated the Al-Shabaab were moving towards the Mandera-Somalia border and that “it is only a matter of time before they start moving into other parts of the country.”

ENTERED THROUGH MANDERA

Mr Roba’s worries could be justified as most of the suspects involved in the previous major attacks in the country were said to have entered the country through Mandera.

Two of suspected terrorists involved in the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi were said to have entered the country through Mandera. One of the suspects was later killed in Somalia.

Two of the suspects involved in last year’s Westgate Mall raid were also traced to have crossed into Kenya through Mandera, with one having lived there for a week before heading to Nairobi.

A similar number of suspects caught with a vehicle full with explosives were also found to have used Mandera as a gateway to the country with one having schooled there, Mr Roba said.

“They were said to have been with the vehicle in Mandera for a week before proceeding to Mombasa. The owner of the vehicle found with explosives in Pangani, Nairobi was also reported to be from Mandera. That is why it is wrong for anybody to downplay incidents of terror in Mandera as small issues yet they have been given responsibility to manage security,” Mr Roba said.

Mr Roba singled out Mandera county commander Noah Mwivanda’s statement that the twin explosions in the town three days ago were caused by business rivalry.

“Police are clueless who is behind the incidents and only issue some statements to cover their incompetence instead of dealing with the situation. This is an issue of great concern for security of the nation as Mandera is access gate of most of the incidents that have occurred in the country,” Mr Roba said.

DOWNPLAY THE ISSUE

He added: “It is safe for police to say they have no clue who the attackers are or their motives rather than downplay the issue and put the rest of the country to sleep.”

He said the intensity and frequency of the explosions in Mandera calls for the country to be put on alert and action taken.

“The attacks are increasing by day. The local network of intelligence show there’s increased movement of Al-Shabaab along the borders of Mandera with an intention to enter and cause havoc in the country. Only God knows what could happen if they enter,” the governor added.

Mr Roba called for quick action by the national government to give the threats posed by Al-Shabaab the attention it requires and deploy intelligence officers to his county to counter them.

“It doesn’t matter whether those behind the terror in Mandera are locals or foreigners. Terror is terror ad should be dealt with firmly. Whether they are locals or foreigners the degree and magnitude of response cannot be understated.

"I am greatly concerned with increased insecurity in Mandera. It’s only a matter of time before they move to the rest of the country,” Mr Roba said.

He said security officials should find out who are behind the attacks, sources of their explosions and individuals funding them.

RHAMU EXPLOSIONS

On Wednesday, two people were injured following explosions at a road construction site near Rhamu bridge in Mandera.

Mandera town has experienced explosions in the recently especially on the busy road near Rhamu bridge.

The road is usually busy and is currently under construction by the county government.

On October 15, Mr Roba escaped unhurt in an attack on his motorcade after a powerful device exploded as his motorcade passed.

A security vehicle for the deputy governor was also attacked.

Earlier in April, unknown armed men shelled the Mandera County government offices, causing extensive damage on one side of the building.

The unidentified heavily armed attackers fired several powerful mortar-propelled grenades at the county offices, but nobody was hurt in the incident since it was early in the day and none of the workers had reported for work at the time of the shelling.

An on Thursday last week, an improvised explosive device went off in Mandera Town, damaging a private car.

The explosive had been planted on the roadside about 200 metres from the Rhamu bus stop, where Governor Roba’s convoy was.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.