Al-Shabaab kidnaps paramedics and patient in Kenya, drive to Somalia
MANDERA, Kenya - Two paramedics, their driver, and their patient were on Tuesday evening abducted by suspects of Al-Shabaab militants, police said, before being driven to neighboring Somalia through the Kenya-Somalia border in Mandera County.
Police reports indicate that the four were ambushed by the militants while driving on an ambulance belonging to the Mandera County government in the northeast of the country, as the driver was taking them to Laffey Sub County Hospital in the region.
"The .... ambulance [was] en route to Elwak hospital for referral with a patient ... and ... in the company of hospital staff," Mandera's Laffey police station said in a report late on Tuesday, which is now available to members of the public.
"They were carjacked by suspected AS [al Shabaab] militia and driven towards Somalia ... They are not in communication at now due to network issues."
For years, the group has been targeting security officials, senior government officers, and innocent civilians in northeastern Kenya, particularly in the counties of Mandera, Garissa, and Wajir. However, the attacks have significantly reduced due to vigilance by security officers.
The militants have often accused Kenya of meddling in Somalia's internal affairs, basing their argument on the presence of Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] in the country. KDF has close to 3,500 soldiers serving as peacekeepers in African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS].
Al Shabaab has been fighting for more than a decade to topple Somalia's central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law. The group controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia.
Over the weekend, the group claimed responsibility for the attack which killed 121 people besides injuring 333 others according to the Somali government. The militants used twin explosives to target the Ministry of Education building in downtown Mogadishu.
In 2015, al-Shabaab attackers killed 166 people at Garissa University in eastern Kenya, while in another attack at a mall in Nairobi in 2013, the group killed 67 people. Hundreds of non-locals in northeastern Kenya were forced to flee from the region following increased attacks targeting them.
Currently, the group has been under immense pressure with Somali National Army [SNA] launching operations against them with assistance from ATMIS, US Africa Command, and the local militia. The government says over 400 militants have been killed in recent weeks.