Security personnel
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War of words on who is abducting men in Garissa

Security personnel patrol a stretch of Kotile town on the Garissa-Lamu-Somalia border. Locals in Garissa are worried over continued abduction of men in the region.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Residents of Garissa County are a worried lot as their lives continue to be disrupted by unexplained arrests and abductions by unknown persons.
Despite pointing fingers at security agencies, police have vehemently denied any role in the incidents.
Over the past four months, several men have allegedly been abducted by suspected security agents, and families are now demanding to know the fate of their loved ones.

Those who have reported a missing family member say they were picked up in the middle of the night by people with covered faces, suspected to be security officers.

One such incident is that of Mr Osman Yusuf Gure, who on the night of February 7 was picked by people believed to be police officers from Garissa town.

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According to Mr Ali Ismael Baraki, a relative, those who picked their kin were known officers as they used to man a roadblock next to the victim’s home.

“Our son and father were kidnapped at about 2am by people known to us. He had been called earlier by a police officer only for two Toyota Probox cars full of security officers to come for him at night,” Mr Baraki said.

Mr Baraki claimed the victim worked with security agencies in Garissa before he was arrested and charged with being in possession of an illegal firearm late last year.
“He has a case ongoing at Garissa Law Courts but we are shocked that the police came for him again for the second time,” he said.

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According to the family, the victim had been contracted to work as a maawisley (local militia) by the government only for him to be arrested on claims that he possessed an illegal firearm.
Mr Baraki said they were worried that the security agencies could eliminate Gure just like it happened to his colleagues.

“Security agencies contract locals and after concluding their mission, they eliminate the same people who have helped them in the fight against the Al-Shabaab,” he said.
Mr Hussein Salat, a human rights activist in Garissa and a brother to the victim, said it was unfair for the security agencies to hold Gure in an unknown place.
Mr Salat said it was worrying that cases of disappearances and extra-judicial killings continue to be reported across Garissa County.
“When President Ruto was campaigning he pledged to end such injustices but we are shocked that remains the order of the day in Garissa. We want a solution to this problem,” he said.
The family maintained that their son worked with security agencies in Balambala but those he worked with later turned against him.
Mr Abdishukri Jelle, who is associated with Muslims For Human Rights (Muhuri), said the abduction trend reported in the past few months in Garissa was worrying.
“We have cases of people who were abducted and then released after together with their families, we raised alarm with the security agencies. We still have missing persons yet to be found and we are getting little help from the security agencies,” Mr Jelle said.
The other case is that of Mr Osman Yussuf, who was on February 7, abducted from a village on the outskirts of Garissa town.
The family is yet to trace him to date.
Similarly, on November 16, 2023, Mr Abdinasir Yusuf Mohamed, a prominent businessman based in Garissa town, was arrested in a dramatic operation at the Tana River Bridge.
Mr Mohamed owns the Aljazeera Hospital in Garissa Town and he was accused of providing medical supplies to the Al-Shabaab terror group.
Mr Mohamed denied the claims.

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Police said he was driving his four-wheel drive car and had arrived at the bridge which is usually a major checkpoint when he was stopped.
According to police, when asked to get out he refused and locked his car, which prompted a confrontation that lasted over 30 minutes.
Police said they used what they called reasonable force to remove him from the car.
A team from the Anti-terror police unit (ATPU) had to break into the car to get the businessman before driving him to Garissa police station.
A fortnight before this incident, on November 2, 2023, Mohamed Hish Mohamed was abducted by people believed to be police from the dreaded ATPU while at his shop in Garissa town.
He was released from Garissa Police station hours later only to be pounced on again outside the police station.
He was released after the local political leadership intervened.
On November 17, 2023, Abdirahman China, a father of three was picked up from his shop during the day.

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On September 22, 2023, Ahmed Abdi Ahmed, Abdi Mohamed Abdi, Abdi Jibril Dagane were abducted from Ijara sub-County.
The three were released by their abductors after a month of anguish for their families.
When reached, Garissa County Police Commander John Samburumo denied claims of police abducting locals.
“We have reports of some people having been abducted and so far we have recorded statements from family members so that we can use the same in our investigations,” he said.
Mr Samburumo urged locals to remain calm as security agencies investigate the reported cases of missing persons.