Al-Shabaab raids police station in Kenya, destroys communication mast
NAIROBI, Kenya - Al-Shabaab militants raided a police station in northeastern Kenya on Saturday morning, officials said, in yet another daring attack within the region, which borders war-torn Somalia to the East.
The unknown number of militants are said to have also destroyed a Safaricom telecommunication mast within Khorof Kharar in Wajir County during the predawn attack, which is said to have lasted for several hours from 2 am.
But Thomas Ngeywa, the Wajir Police Commandant, insisted that the attack at the police station by the militants was successfully repulsed, despite admitting that the militants managed to bring down the mast to paralyze communication within the vicinity.
“I can confirm that suspected members of al-Shabaab militants carried out an attack in Khorof Kharar police camp and also destroyed a communication mast belonging to Safaricom early Saturday morning,” Ngeywa told reporters in Wajir town.
Khorof Kharar is about 20 kilometers away from Qarsa, a terror hotspot in Wajir County. It's the second time the militants were launching attack near the region, which is manned also by Special Forces from the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF]
Nicodemus Ndalana, the Northeastern Regional Coordinator, said a hunt for the attackers has been launched, adding that the Special Forces had joined the crackdown. The nearest thickets are the main targeted points, he added.
“We responded immediately they attacked. All officers are safe. We have a multi-agency team which is coordinating the man-hunt, we shall ensure that the culprits are nabbed and subjected to the rule of law," he told reporters in Garissa, one of the counties which are also facing Al-Shabaab menace.
A police report seen by Garowe Online indicates that a huge gunfight ensued after the militants used Rocket Propelled Grenade [RPG] and mortars against officers on duty, forcing the team to retreat to the nearby bushes. However, the report added, no armory was stolen from the base.
The attack comes after intelligence reports warned of impending attacks within the region, despite noting that the militants may have stopped their attacks due to increased surveillance coupled with numerous roadblocks in the region.
Some reports also indicated that the militants had crossed from Somalia with an aim of imposing forceful taxation among the business community in Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties. The militants, the confidential report added, are using local networks to execute the plan.
Northeastern has been the battlefield for Al-Shabaab unprecedented attacks in Kenya, registering almost a total of 18 incidents since the beginning of 2020. Wajir and Garissa are worst affected by the militants' offensive.
According to officials, the militants have been targeting security forces especially those working as National Police Reservists, mainly drawn from the local population. More often than not, their families have been abducted and their houses torched, authorities said.
This is the third attempt against a police post in Kenya, given similar incidents in Mandera North and Garissa early this year. But in all the incidents, no police officer has been reported dead according to official reports by the government.
But of more worrying is unending attacks against the Safaricom company, Kenya's most successful telecommunication company, which has registered losses worth millions of dollars. The company has rarely issued a statement over the onslaught.
Despite traces in the Northern Frontier Districts, the Al-Shabaab militants remain substantially neutralized due to frequent ground combats and airstrikes launched by Somali National Army [SNA], AMISOM troops and the US Africa Command.