21 November 2012

Kenya: Woman Killed, 10 Injured in Garissa Swoop

A woman was yesterday killed in the second day of the military operation in Garissa even as MPs and Imams threatened to sue top military commanders at the International Criminal Court.

The woman was among protestors who were trying to block the millitary vehicles along Kismayu road as the KDF operation in the area entered its second day. The vehicles were heading to Somalia.

According to witnesses, the KDF soldiers shot at the protesting crowd killing the woman instantly and injuring at least ten other protestors.

The KDF operation in Garissa was sparked off by Monday's killing of three officers who had stopped to change the vehicle tyre.

The three soldiers were shot at point blank range while a fourth was abducted and abandoned two kilometers away after the KDF scrambled planes from Laikipia and Eastleigh airbase to help in the search.

Yesterday, Garissa provincial hospital medical supritendant Dr Musa Mohamed confirmed that ten people were admitted at the hospital with gunshot wounds.

Another 35 people--including a chief and two students from County Secondary School-- who were allegedly beaten by the soldiers are also receiving treatment at the hospital.

Two of those admitted were operated on yesterday to remove bullets. Property worth millions of shillings was also destroyed during the operation mounted on Monday.

The military imposed an unofficial curfew and took control of the central business district. The town was deserted and many residents remained indoors for the second day as the military carried out their operations.

By the time the military Garissa town on Monday evening, they had set the Garissa market and adjacent shops on fire as well as the Maua Posho millers where goods valued at Sh100 millions were reduced to ashes.

Eyewitnesses said they saw a soldier start the fire at the market and the posho mill. They said their pleas to the soldier to spare their businesses were ignored.

"The soldiers then went ahead to burn two salon cars which were reduced to shells. We will sue the government for compensation" said one of the people whose business was destroyed in the fire.

Addressing area security teams, religious leaders and political leaders at Garissa, Defence minister Yusuf Haji assured residents of security and appealed for calm saying those responsible for killing the soldiers and an estimated 20 policemen in the area will soon be arrested.

Haji said he was "deeply concerned' by the burning of buildings, kiosks and a posho mill and the injuries caused to civilians.

"The criminals behind rampant police assassinations will soon be apprehended as our security agents are pursuing them day and night" said Haji.

Yesterday, Lagdera MP Farah Maalim condemned the brutality of the military operation and threatened to seek justice for the resident from the International Court of Justice.

He said the military had turned Garissa into a 'battle zone' and had adopted a "scorched earth policy" in an attempt to get the killers of the three soldiers. "We shall seek justice at the ICJ if that is what is required," Farah said in Parliament buildings.

Farah, who was flanked by Northern Kenya Development minister Mohammed Elmi, and MPs Amina Abdalla, Mohammed Muhamud, Agostino Neto, Ekwe Ethuro, Adan Keynan, Shakeel Shabbir and Fahim Twaha, accused the KDF of causing mayhem, raping women and shooting at the school going children during the hunt for the killers.

"It is not possible for KDF to have done whatever they did in Garissa without somebody high up in Nairobi knowing," Farah said adding that the deployment of the military in Garissa was unconstitutional as Parliament, which resumed its sessions yesterday, had not given its consent as is required.

At the Coast,the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya condoled with the families of the soldiers but condemned the heavy handed manner in which the military was dealing with the civilian population.

The CPK organizing secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said the council would take action against the military chiefs for harassing the residents.

"Why are they terrorizing people? We shall sue them for crimes against humanity if they continue with their illegal operation,"said Khalifa.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops yesterday said they were 'disturbed' by the lax manner exhibited by the executive in handling the ongoing insecurity,.

They asked the government to declare a national day of mourning and order flags to be flown at half mast in honor of the fallen soldiers and policemen.

"Is this how Kenya wants to treat its sons and daughters who have sacrificed everything to defend the country?" Bishop Zacheus Okoth, the chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference said.

Expressing the church's concern at the escalating incidents of violence in different parts of the country, Bishop Okoth urged Kenyans against taking retaliatory actions as this would plunge the country into a crisis.

He urged the government to take action before the country disintegrates "We urge all Kenyans to resist all kinds of incitement and report any utterances and incitements from any person to the relevant authorities," th CJPC vice chairman Bishop Cornelius Korir said.

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