12 Somalis arrested in Kenya over suspicions of ties with Al-Shabaab
NAIROBI, Kenya - The Kenya police on Saturday arrested 12 Somalia nationals in the northeastern town of Garissa, a senior police boss confirmed, and they will be arraigned in court to explain the motive behind their trip to the East Africa nation without proper documentation.
The 12 foreigners are said to have sneaked across the porous border without valid documentation, the official said, in an incident that raises questions about the country's efficiency in the management of the borders, which have been an elephant in the room.
Garissa divisional police commander Joseph Muriuki said the suspects were being ferried in a Garissa county government vehicle but had the government of Kenya number plates, something which further raided suspicion about their trip to the country.
Usually, vehicles attached to the county governments have special number plates for identification which were introduced in 2013 when the country formally adopted the devolved systems of government. Those attached to the government also have special plates for identification.
Muriuki said the suspects were arrested at the Garissa-Tana Bridge by police officers who demanded to see valid work permits. None of them had valid documentation at the time of arrest, he added during a briefing to the media houses.
"The aliens on board aged between 15 and 35 were all men and we were also seeking to know who else could have aided their movement to Garissa and beyond," Muriuki told journalists in Garissa, adding that the incident will be investigated.
He said preliminary investigations by the police have since established that the aliens who were coming from Mogadishu in Somalia were on their way to Nairobi but their mission was not immediately established.
The police commander said the driver and the aliens will be arraigned in court on Monday. Muriuki said investigations have been launched to establish information on who was behind the immigration racket.
The Kenyan authorities have intensified the ongoing crackdown on undocumented migrant workers that had seen homes raided and hundreds of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers arrested around the country.
The Kenya-Somalia border is considered one of the most insecure and the government of Kenya has increased surveillance in recent years through the Border Patrol Unit and a contingent of the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF], who man critical points across the border.
Garissa is one of the counties that has been battling surging Al-Shabaab attacks which are engineered by terrorists from across the border. This year alone, the region has recorded over 10 incidents which have left dozens of people dead according to official government statistics.
Five years ago, the militants also raided Garissa University College in an attack that leftover 150 students dead. The attack remains the worst in Kenya's history and since then, the multi-agency security team has camped in the region to degrade the Al-Shabaab militants.