The Nation (Nairobi)

26 December 2011

Kenya: Tension High in North Eastern After Blasts

Tension remains high in North Eastern Province following a series of explosive attacks targeting military and police convoys in the area.

On Christmas eve, a grenade was hurled in night club in Wajir town, leaving two people in critical condition and several others injured.

The attack, at Ngamia Club within Wajir Police Line was believed to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab militants who had planned to carry out attacks during Christmas celebrations.

It followed the arrest of six suspects on Friday last week amid reports that the terrorist group planned to carry out attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa over the festive season.

Last month, suspected Al-Shabaab rebel fighters raided a police post near Mandera and seized weapons before burning a mobile phone transmission mast.

The incident came days after another grenade attack in Garissa killed six people, and a roadside bomb killed a soldier in Mandera town.

According to a report by the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, aid workers have reduced operations in the region following heightened insecurity.

"The security situation in Somalia and northern Kenya remains volatile, hindering access and effective delivery of assistance to people in need," the report says.

It adds that six explosions reported in the last two weeks have resulted in the deaths of three police officers and serious injuries to 17 people.

Following the attacks, humanitarian agencies have temporarily suspended more services in the Dadaab refugee camps and inside Somalia.

"Insecurity in the area over the past two months has increasingly limited humanitarian operations in Dadaab. IOM has suspended all camp-based relocations and medical staff support to the Kenya Red Cross," it says.

The report says that in Somalia, the joint operation by the Kenya Defence Forces and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government troops intensified, with military air strikes targeting at Al-Shabaab strongholds in Kismayu.

It says that landmine explosions also continued to be reported in Mogadishu.

The report says on December 20, an improvised explosive device targeting women engaged in a cash-for-work programme resulted in the death of one woman and wounded three others.

The report warns that insecurity in North Eastern Province may impact delivery of relief aid and free movement of pastoralists, and undermine recovery of the livelihoods base.

The report says that transfer of refugees from Dadaab to Hagadera to ease congestion has been suspended due to insecurity, with the next phase not due until after January 1.

The report is warning of a health crisis, especially cholera which has been on the increase at the refugee camp and has led to the death of three children.

"As of December 15, 805 suspected cholera cases had been reported in Dadaab since August, with 59 per cent of the affected people being children under age 5.

One death of a two-year old was reported in Hagadera, bringing the total number of cholera deaths to three," it said.

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