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Two Kenyans arrested while sneaking to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Two Kenyans have been arraigned before a Mandera Principal Magistrate for allegedly sneaking to Somalia illegally last month?

Idris Wesonga and Joseph Odhiambo who hail from Kakamega County, Western part of Kenya, were seized by Somalia authorities last month.

The two, the court heard on Wednesday, traveled from their villages sometimes in October before renting a temporary house in Mandera.

After a week, the prosecution said, the two embarked on a mysterious journey to the neighboring Somalia where they were planning to join Al-Shabaab militants.

They reportedly used Bulahawa border point where they boarded a taxi which was expected to ferry them to Baidoa, the capital of troubled South West state.

According to police reports in Mandera, the two adults were arrested by hawk-eyed Somali National Army (SNA) who handed them over to Kenya Defense Forces.

"They had crossed over the border and it took the intervention of the Somali soldiers to seize them and hand them over," the police report deposited in court reads.

At the time of arrest, prosecutors said, the two had National ID cards and East African passports. However, they were not signed by authorities to signify that Kenya was aware of their journey.

Consequently, they charged with traveling to a terrorist designated country, failing to report their departure to government authorities and sneaking out of Kenya

Peter Areri, the Principal Magistrate in Mandera ordered their remand until January 10th, 2020 when their bail application ruling will be made.

Cases of young Kenyans crossing over the border to join radical Al-Shabaab group are synonymous, with authorities blaming high unemployment rates.

Early this week, a senior government official claimed that a number of youths were blocked from traveling to Somalia via Tanzania.

Michael Tialaal, who serves as Siaya County Commissioner, which neighbors Kakamega, said authorities seized a number of youths in the last few months.

"Another group was returned by security agencies from Tanzania while en route to Somalia," Tialaal said, adding that the security team is now vigil.

Al-Shabaab militants have been running radicalization training in Kenya for years. Authorities have been keeping surveillance on mosques believed to be training dens.

Kenya has been a frequent victim of Al-Shabaab terror activities. Last Friday, 11 passengers were killed near Wajir when their bus was flagged down by the militants.

The group has been causing havoc in East Africa, with their latest attack coming on Wednesday evening when they attacked SYL Hotel in Mogadishu killing five.

President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that "Kenya will not spare Al-Shabaab militants until they are all crushed completely".


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