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Somalia, Kenya hold cross-border meeting following Al-Shabaab attacks

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

WAJIR, Kenya - Community elders and citizens living across the Kenya-Somalia border will now be involved in robust security meetings, it has emerged.

For the last three months, Al-Shabaab militants have launched deadly attacks in the region, including targeting a passenger bus early in December.

Jacob Narengo, the Wajir County Commissioner, on Wednesday told reporters that the meetings will be fundamental for both countries.

The new strategy, he added, will make the elders and locals voluntarily give leads to incidents that could lead to Al-Shabaab attacks.

"In the light of the recent Al-Shabaab attacks in Wajir County, we've decided as the county security team to re-strategize by use of elders and communities living in areas most affected by the attacks," he said.

He added: "We urge the same elders to co-operate with law enforcement agencies and local administrators by voluntarily sharing information which will allow security agencies to act on time."

A week ago, at least four construction workers were kidnapped by the Islamist militants near the Kenya-Somalia border in Wajir while inspecting a road.

The militants are said to have crossed the border with the workers. One of the drivers managed to escape from the captors and has since recorded a statement.

On their whereabouts, Narengo said, "we are working with elders and security forces from Somalia to push for their immediate release."

It is not the first time civilians are being abducted by the militants. In April, two doctors from Cuba working in Mandera were kidnapped. They are yet to be rescued.

Although Kenya has deployed Special Forces from KDF in the porous border, the strategy has done little to avert cases of terrorism activities.

Elders from the Somali community are highly respected even among the Al-Shabaab thus their involvement would be a major milestone in restoring normalcy along the border.

The top administrator also urged chiefs working in remote parts of the county to return to their areas of jurisdiction for the purpose of beefing up security.

"We've had cases where a number of chiefs operate from Wajir town and leave the wananchi on their own and I now direct them to go back and serve the community," he said.

His directive came hours after the KDF team managed to foil Al-Shabaab attack targeting the Kulbiyow army base in Lower Jubba, Somalia on Tuesday night.

Kenya is yet to pull out her soldiers from Somalia with President Uhuru Kenyatta recently insisting that they will stay in the country until stability is regained.


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