Three people who went missing on Monday after a vehicle they were travelling in was hit by an explosive in Mandera are alive and being held hostage by the Al-Shabaab group.
This is according to security agencies in the far-flung county. Meanwhile, a search and rescue effort for the three continues.
Mr George Seda, the County Police Commander, said more security officers have been deployed with more advanced technology to search and rescue the three.
The victims were together with two police officers in a private vehicle transporting examination materials from Nairobi to Mandera.
Their vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, was partially damaged by the explosive along the Banisa-Takaba road.
All the five scampered for safety but the two police officers from Nairobi were located some 10 kilometres into the bush.
“We managed to get the two officers who were escorting the team from Nairobi. The officers are safe but we are still searching for the three people who took off including the driver of the vehicle,” said Mr Seda.
The missing three were identified as Mr Galogalo, Mr Oshe and Mr Jamal.
“According to information we have, we believe they are still alive and our concerted rescue efforts will yield fruit soon,” Mr Seda said.
The county police boss said the militants causing havoc in Banisa and in other areas far from the Kenya-Somalia border are locals who joined the terror cell and have been sent back with a mission.
“We believe the militants in areas far from our border with Somalia are locals who were recruited, radicalised and have come back to cause mayhem,” he said.
He cited lack of co-operation from the local community as the main challenge in dealing with the insecurity situation in Mandera.
“We need collaborative efforts to fight the common enemy but our security teams are getting scanty information from the locals,” he said.
In some cases, according to Mr Seda, locals will report sighting suspicious characters four days later, making it difficult for security officers to respond.
He said his office has not received any report from any parent of a missing son or daughter who has joined Al-Shabaab despite intelligence reports indicating that the recent happenings in Banisa are by locals trained in Somalia as Shabaab fighters.
“We can win this if the locals report those who have joined the terror group and their return to the society,” he said as he called on the community to volunteer timely information.
He said there is a possibility that there are several groups causing mayhem in Banisa after a telecommunications mast was vandalised on Tuesday night as police searched for the missing three.
“We suspect the militants have divided themselves into two groups because our teams kept trailing one group while another vandalised the communications mast,” he said.
The county police boss said the missing three were still being held in Mandera County and that they will be rescued.