Suspected al-Shabaab militants bomb telco mast

A health facility in Banisa Sub-County, Mandera County.

A health facility in Banisa Sub-County, Mandera County. Suspected al-Shabaab militants destroyed a telecommunications mast in the area.

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo | Nation Media Group

Suspected al-Shabaab militants have bombed a telecommunications mast in Banisa Sub-County, Mandera County three days after they attacked a bus and a private vehicle in the same area.

Local residents who spoke to the Nation said the militants used explosives to destroy the mast at Darkale center on Tuesday night.

“We are in distress and we don't know who will save us. The militants are here creating havoc and fear. They bombed the Safaricom mast at night and that has weakened the communication network,” said Hassan Ahmed.

He said the destroyed mast had been serving about ten other sub-stations.

On Monday, a roadside planted the suspected al-Shabaab militants exploded, partially damaging a private vehicle transporting examination material to Mandera.

Three of the vehicle's occupants are yet to be found.

A few hours later, a bus heading to Nairobi was shot at by the same group but the driver sped off and the police on escort engaged the group in a shootout.

On Tuesday, Edward Ibwaka, the Banisa sub-county police commander, said air and foot patrols had been launched in search of the missing three.

“We were told police and the military were combing our area for the militants but it is surprising that in less than a day, a mast has been damaged,” said Mr Ahmed.

Security agencies in Banisa could not be reached for comment.

Rob conductor

In neighbouring Wajir County, suspected al-Shabaab militants on Tuesday afternoon stopped a bus from Mandera in Tarbai and robbed its conductor of Sh40,000.

According to a security report seen by the Nation, the suspected militants stopped the bus about 2:30pm as it headed to Wajir town from Mandera.

“A conductor of AL-Mukaram bus registration number KDA 110T plying Mandera -Nairobi route reported that at around 1430hrs while heading to Nairobi from Mandera , between Kotulo and Tarbaj at a place called Darkut along Mandera - Wajir road they were stopped  by six men suspected to be Alshabaab militants,” says the report.

The report says the men were armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

The bus conductor told the police that the assailants fired one shot in the air and ordered all the passengers to alight from the bus, it says.

“They separated men and women and interrogated men by asking whether they carry Non-locals in their buses and also among them whether there was any civil servant,” says the report.

The armed men took some food stuff and robbed the conductor of Sh40,000 and warned him not to carry non-locals on their bus, the report says.

“Later they were released to proceed with their journey at about 1530 hrs. There was no casualty,” it says.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba recenetly called for immediate intervention from the national government.over the resurgence of al-Shabaab in northeastern Kenya.