Al-Shabaab raids northeastern Kenya, destroy telecommunication mast
NAIROBI, Kenya - Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants waged an attack in Garissa County within the Northern Frontier Districts [NFD] on Thursday morning, authorities said, in an attack that comes amid an intensive crackdown against the Al-Qaida linked group in the region.
The militants, police said, dismembered a telecommunication mast in Korakora village in the outskirts of Garissa town, near the porous Kenya-Somalia border, which has seen increased activities by the Special Forces in recent months. The mast belongs to the telecommunication giant, Safaricom.
Before looting and destroying the mast, the militants created a scene in Korakora police station but were repulsed by vigilant security forces. The police officers fired at the militants, forcing them to scamper for their safety.
An eyewitness said that the over 20 militants raided the mast, temporarily affecting communication but the police officers pursued them, forcing them to flee from the site. They are said to have crossed over to neighboring Somalia.
Rono Bunei, the northeastern regional police commander, said police officers and multi-agency team mainly from Special Forces and the Ranger Strike Force, had launched a manhunt for the militants.
“Already our officers are combing the region. Luckily none was injured,” said the officers, adding that security forces will continue to flush the militants from the region, besides engaging the community for a lasting solution.
The attacks have substantially reduced in the region after the officers launched an operation in March to trace and flush them out. Many were killed within Garissa, Wajir, and Lamu counties according to the intelligence reports.
Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] team unleashed along the Wajir and Mandera borders in May, leading to a mass exodus of the militants from the region. The KDF team did not, however, reveal the number of the militants who died or those captured during the operation.
The militants have been causing havoc along the border and are said to have unleashed at least 21 times since January this year. In the process, police reports indicate, the Somalia-based terrorists have killed almost 26 people within the same period.
One of the most publicized attacks came on Jan 5 this year when the militants managed to run over Manda Airfield, which hosts the elite US Marine Corps in Kenya. Three Americans including a serviceman were killed.
Early on Monday, Kenyan security agencies foiled another attack where suspected terrorists hijacked a car and kidnapped eight people. Kenyan authorities were tipped off and acted quickly to save the eight. They were being taken to Somalia via Wajir County.
Al-Shabaab remains a major security threat within East Africa despite the fact that it has been significantly degraded by the multi-agency team within Somalia and along the borders. The African Union Mission troops and those from US Africa Command are credited for neutralizing the militants.