Kenya denies Al-Shabab in control of county bordering Somalia

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NAIROBI - A Kenyan official on Saturday refuted claims that the north-eastern county of Mandera that borders Somalia was under the control of al-Shabaab militants.

Nicodemus Musyoki Ndalana, North Eastern Regional Commissioner said the allegations made by Mandera governor Ali Roba that the county was under the grip of the Somalia-based militant group were inaccurate.

"For the record, Mandera is among the frontier counties that have immensely benefitted from the national government's heavy investment on progressive upgrading of security infrastructure, deployment of personnel, and improvement of security gathering mechanisms," Ndalana said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Roba recently alleged that al-Shabab militants had gained control of remote corners of Mandera County that lack connectivity and the presence of security personnel.

He said the vast county risked being run over by the militants amid frequent attacks targeting homes, schools, health centers, police stations, and telecommunications equipment.

Ndalana clarified that Al-Shabab remained a security challenge in Mandera and other northeastern Kenyan counties but was yet to demonstrate the capacity to establish a fiefdom.

"There is no denying that the county still experiences daunting scenarios each day due to its proximity to the Al-Shabaab corridor but it is no longer the enemy's stomping ground," said Ndalana.

"Contrary to the governor's claims, since 2013, Mandera County has registered steady gains through our security forces who have been repulsing and deterring threats to lives and property," he added.

Ndalana said that learning has resumed in north-eastern counties amid enhanced security adding that the central government has invested in community awareness and youth empowerment to minimize the threat of radicalization.

He said that state officers have engaged village elders to improve intelligence gathering which has helped to thwart attacks.

"Our focus is to strengthen our community deterrence efforts, which have allowed us to sustain this fight, and our doors are ever wide open for anyone with the information or intelligence that can enrich our preventive interventions," said Ndalana.

He said the government is committed to partnerships with elected leaders and local communities to improve the security situation in northeastern counties and position them as ideal investment destinations.

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