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Al-Shabaab's early morning raid leaves one officer dead in Kenya

By East Africa Correspondent , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - A Sunday morning raid by Al-Shabaab militants left one security officer dead in Mandera, the northeastern part of Kenya, authorities said, in an attack which further exposes the country's ability to degrade the group.

John Marete, the Laffey Deputy County Commissioner, told reporters that at least 10 armed Al-Shabaab militants raided the southern part of the county at around 3 am local time, leading to a fierce gunfight that lasted for a couple of minutes.

During the shooting melee, one National Police Reservist [NPR] died on the spot at Warankara township before the attackers were repulsed, forcing some of them to flee into thickets for safety, the officer told reporters.

The attackers, he added, used two Rocket Propelled Grenades [RPGs] before opening fire against the officers. The NPRs are police officers mainly those who may have retired from the service or locally recruited security officers working with police officers.

“We have lost a police reservist this morning in an incident at Warankara Township. The attackers hauled two rocket-propelled grenades at the mast resulting in a gun battle with police reservists guarding the mast,” Marete said.

One militant died about a kilometer from the scene of the attack as the reservists regained control of the town. The intense gunfight lasted for about 30 minutes, the DCC said, adding that the slain reservist was hit by one bullet.

“One of the attackers was injured in the incident and his colleagues tried carrying him away but left him about a kilometer from the scene where he was found dead,” added the officer, who also noted efforts by security forces to secure the region.

A 10-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound on the hip during the fight, and has since been admitted to a local hospital, he said, adding that he's in a stable condition after being examined by medical officers.

“This boy was hit by the bullet while in their family house at Warankara Township but he is in stable condition,” the Laffey DCC said. Marete said security surveillance has been increased in the area to track the attackers believed to be hiding within.

“We are suspecting these attackers have not crossed into Somalia but hiding in the Daua Duba hills within Lafey Sub-County and we shall be smoking them out,” he continued, adding that they might have sneaked across the porous Kenya-Somalia border.

He added that local security teams were awaiting a plane from Nairobi to facilitate aerial surveillance in the dense Daua Duba area. In the recent past, increased movements of the Al-Shabaab militants have been reported in the areas in Mandera bordering Somalia.

The attack also comes after a KDF report revealed that several militants may have crossed over to Kenya due to dwindling revenues in Somalia, and have since established a local extortionist cartel that is collecting taxes forcefully within the region.

In May, KDF launched a series of airstrikes along the border in which several militants are said to have either died or surrendered. The KDF team is also keen to establish formal immigration centers along the border, which would minimize illegal businesses across the region.

Since January, the militants have launched about 22 terror attacks on Kenyan soil, leaving about 25 people dead. Some of the affected counties include Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Lamu, which saw a US Naval Base raided by Al-Shabaab early this year.

The militants have been targeting NPRs, accusing them of sharing intelligence with KDF, who in turn wage raids against them. Besides killing the NPRs, the Al-Shabaab militants have also persistently torched houses belonging to the local security teams especially in Garissa.


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