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Two suspected Al-Shabaab militants arrested in Kenya by locals

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Two suspected Al-Shabaab militants were on Thursday arrested by locals in Tana River County, around 400 KM South East of Nairobi, authorities have said.

Fredrick Ochieng', the area police commander, said the two suspects of Somali ethnic were intercepted by locals at Lagbadana village.

The two had been sighted crossing over the crocodile-infested Tana River, which drains its water to the Indian Ocean, he said.

Before that, the commander said, locals had also located six-armed suspected militants with links to Al-Shabaab based in Somalia within the Bula area before they vanished to nearby vicinity.

Suspect arrested with communication gadgets

Police have been deployed to man all communication posts, public offices and places that are likely to be attacked.

Mohammed Omar Ali, 43, was arrested by locals when he asked directions to nearest police stations and churches, the commander added.

“He claimed he was going to Nairobi through Garissa, we did not understand how he ended up in the Hola area when there is only one way to Nairobi from Garissa,” said Mr Ochieng.

Among the items recovered include a laptop with codes and locations of various foreign communication installations such as San Marco mast in Making.

Interestingly, the satellites are used for launching satellites by American forces. Most American troops are stationed along the Kenyan coast.

The second suspect appeared incoherent

Abdalla Mohamed Abdalla, the second suspect, was also arrested at Laza town, with locals suspecting his "suspicious" movements.

The suspect was in possession of Kenyan Identity Card and claimed that he was traveling from Hola to Garissa, the commander said.

Also seized from the suspect was a laptop believed to be critical in Communication and $130. He could not coherently explain his movements, police said.

Police have since detained the two and would be handed over to the Anti-Terror Police [Unit ATPU] for further interrogation.

Tana River one of the most secure counties

While the county has not faced lethal Al-Shabaab attacks, neighboring counties such as Lamu and Garissa are renowned terror hotbeds.

A couple of weeks ago, the militants killed three passengers in a Lamu-bound bus before running over a US Naval Base, police said.

Notably, locals at the semi-arid county had sighted wounded Al-Shabaab militants seeking medication in the region.

“Tana River County is targeted for the terror attack, we have put measures in place by ensuring that all communication masts, vital installations, places of worship, schools and other social places are all guarded on a 24-hour basis,” he said.

Uhuru's stern warning to militants

Last week, a concerned President Uhuru Kenyatta instructed security chiefs to work closely with locals to expose the militants.

Uhuru said "we cannot improve our security without working with locals. We must adopt this strategy for the common good of our people."

To crush the militants, the head of state added, the government will impose economic sanctions on the militants and their financiers.

Kenya has witnessed at least 11 Al-Shabaab attacks in the past one month, a move that has forced the government to deploy state extra forces to the northeastern region.