Driver, passenger arrested over Wajir's Al-Shabaab attack
NAIROBI, Kenya - Two people have been arrested in connection to deadly Al-Shabaab attack that targeted a Mandera-bound bus in Northeastern Kenya, authorities have confirmed.
Mohamed Birik, the regional police commandant said the driver of the ill-fated bus and a "suspicious" passenger are being held by authorities.
The two, he said, were arrested after multiple interviews with eyewitness exposed "questionable" behavior throughout the journey.
"We are interrogating the driver and a passenger. The two have been adversely mentioned by survivors," he said on Saturday, adding that two police officers who went missing have been accounted for.
Intelligence reports indicate that the unnamed passenger was seen making several calls throughout the trip, besides having brief communication with the bus's crew.
The driver, the reports reveal, delayed the trip from Wajir to Mandera deliberately by over 4 hours. He left Wajir at 3 pm instead of 11 am local time as scheduled.
Eight policemen were among those killed in Friday's attack near the Kutulo area. Two more victims were teachers and another one a doctor.
Witnesses said the Medina bus was flagged down before the terrorists separated occupants to locals and non-locals. They executed the latter.
The two, Birik told journalists, will be dragged to court once investigations are completed. They could be airlifted to Nairobi.
Wajir leaders led by Governor Mohamed Abdi have warned residents against working with terrorist elements in the region.
Police officers, Abdi added, should be allowed to travel with their guns especially in the terrorists' prone areas for security services.
"Those people who might have provided the information about the passengers to the terrorists are the ones that we need to first deal with,” he said.
In Kenya, police officers are required to return guns to the nearest police stations once they are through with shifts, a tradition Abdi wants to be dropped.
“This a criminal gang that has no religion…that has no human face…that has no value at all,” said Elias Member of Parliament Adan Keynan.
Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim described the attack as cowardly, adding that as leaders, they will pool resources to ensure that the attacks do not happen again in the county.
Special Forces from KDF have been deployed to the region to pursue Al-Shabaab militants who planned and executed the attack.
The Wajir bus attack was the first targeting passengers in as many years. Al-Shabaab last attacked a public transport vehicle in 2014 near Mandera.