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Al-Shabaab raids Mandera, kills four amid tensions in Gedo region

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MANDERA, Kenya - Resurgent Al-Shabaab militants staged a series of deadly attacks in Mandera County, a top official confirmed, even in the middle of cross-border tensions between Kenya and Somalia.

For three hours, the militants raided several villages in Jabi-bar, within the Rhamu region on Wednesday, causing massive destruction besides abducting non-locals, reports indicate.

Captain Ali Roba, the Mandera Governor, lamented that the country was "entertaining foreign forces" in the region, leaving Al-Shabaab "to have a field day" in Mandera.

He was referring to Jubaland forces, who had taken refuge in the border town after their unprecedented clashes with the Somali National Army [SNA] troops at the neighboring Balad-Hawo last week.

In one of the incidents, a non-local mechanic was killed on the spot and his body thrown into a thicket after the bus he was traveling was flagged down by the militants. All passengers of Somali ethnic were spared, reports from the police indicated.

Yet, still, even without swift action from the security forces, the militants also ambushed a vehicle supplying medicine in the county within Rhamu, abducting four people in the process, Roba said.

They set the vehicle ablaze, destroying medicine worth millions of dollars meant for various health centers in Mandera. Those abducted worked for Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, he added.

"Today five incidences happened at Jabibar within 3 straight hours uninterrupted by our security forces," said Roba. "Four people have been abducted and their whereabouts unknown. One KEMSA vehicle was burnt."

But unfortunately, two bodies of those abducted were recovered on Thursday, with the whereabouts of their colleagues remaining unknown.

Mr. Roba, who has been calling for calmness in the region, was quick to blame the Somalia-based terror group, which has been causing mayhem in the northeastern region.

"Two bodies killed by the suspected Al-Shabaab of yesterday were found this morning and two are still missing," Roba said. "We condemn the cowardly heinous act by Alshabaab and urge the Gov to respond swiftly."

KDF had been accused of "too much" focus on internal wrangles between SNA and Jubaland forces, "abdicating" their duties in the process. The cross-boy situation in Mandera still remains fluid.

Although both Kenya and Somalia have traded barbs of alleged "violation of territorial integrity", there have been significant efforts to quell tensions, which informed Somalia's foreign affairs minister Ahmed Isse Awad's trip to Nairobi on Wednesday.

There were concerns both from Kenya and the US that the standoff between FGS and federal states particularly Jubaland would lead to a resurgence of Al-Shabaab militants. FGS was asked to withdraw the Turkish-trained soldiers from Gedo.

Mandera has witnessed over six Al-Shabaab raids this year. Not far from Jabi-bar, the militants also flagged down a Moyale Raha bus killing three non-locals, authorities said.

The escalating insecurity situations informed withdrawals of over 1,000 non-local teachers from the region, paralyzing learning activities. Efforts to restore normalcy are yet to succeed.

Local leaders were reportedly asked by President Uhuru Kenyatta to liaise with their constituents and "report locals aiding Al-Shabaab in the region". The order informed 11 MPs secret trip to Somalia in which they met President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo last month.

Through Sheikh Ali Dhere, the Al-Shabaab militants had last month ordered for the exit of "all non-locals" in a statement where they claimed that "we have enough Muslim scholars" who can help learners.

Police are yet to issue statement over the latest raids. For records, this was the 17th attack by the militants in Kenyan soil this year in which now over 20 innocent civilians have been butchered.