The Star (Nairobi)

22 November 2012

Kenya: Al Shabaab Implicated in Garissa Violence

Photo: Capital FM
Kenya Defence Forces have been fighting al-Shabaab since October 2011(file photo).

Intelligence reports by the North Eastern Provincial Security and Intelligence Committee have implicated a wanted man said to be an Al Shabaab operative in Garissa for organizing attacks on security officers. The report further accuses politicians of fueling the chaos in the town.

The reports from the Provincial and Intelligence Committee (PSIC) and the District Security and Intelligence Committee(DSIC) which have been sent to the Internal Security permanent secretary Mutea Iringo dated November 20 and November 19, however differ on the sequence of events preceding the violence that have rocked the town since three Kenya Defence Force soldiers were gunned down by armed men as they repaired tires.

Intelligence officers allege that "Abdi Mohammed Farah aka Maash is a suspected Al Shabaab head of Intelligence in Garissa and is believed to have coordinated the recent attacks in Garissa and refugee camps" the PSIC report says.

" Intelligence indicates that there is a planned huge demonstration with support from politicians against alleged police brutality. PSIC is seating to review the situation and way forward," the PSIC report which the Star saw says.

Garissa County Commissioner M. A Maalim in his report says that the violence erupted after three KDF soldiers namely Lance Corporal John Wachira Wang'ombe, of 5KA, Senior Private Anthony Mucheka and senior Private David Erman Ekala all drivers were shot dead by terrorists.

"This lead to security personnel in town avenging their anger on the resident of the town by punishing the people collectively and by the end of the day 62 people were injured of which one was referred to Nairobi, several business premises burnt down and totally destroyed rendering the business community to be poor.," the report said.

He alleged that security situation has been worsening especially in Garissa where around nine soldiers have been killed and one business man is in critical condition after he was shot and left to die.

The violence continued for the second day during which seventeen people were injured. Reports of rapes cases could not be verified from the police and the hospital.

The PSIC on the other hand says that violence erupted after a group of youth who were on the roof tops of a a building belonging to a prominent businessman engaged police in a hoot out and attempted to block security agents from collecting the bodies of the three soldiers.

" Youths engaged security personnel in fire exchange from rooftop of a four storey building belonging to a local businessman," the report says.

The PSIC report on the incident says that meetings held on July 31, 2012, October 2 2012 and November 5 2012 had instructed the DSIC to over see the destruction of kiosks and other illegal structures which were being used to criminals.

"Youths engaged security personnel in fire exchange from rooftops of the four storey building belonging to a prominent local businessman. Illegal kiosks along Kismayu road used by criminals were torched. Structures cleared are bordering KDF camp, Garissa primary, all the way to Garissa Provincial Hospital," the report signed by F. O OUMA for the North Eastern Provincial Commissioner says.

KDF Information Operations Officer Colonel Cyrus Oguna yesterday clarified that KDF soldiers had not engaged in any violence on Garissa residents as is being alleged.

" After the killing of the three soldiers, the commander sent a team to secure the military equipment. KDF knows it mandate and it does not include engaging citizens. The operation conducted in the village was done by police who were accompanied by the two soldiers who escaped from the attackers because they had seen them. When no weapon was recovered or arrests made KDF personnel retreated. The next day a small group of locals attacked the KDF camp but the soldiers only took positions for the fifteen minutes it happened. But as it happened, chaos erupted in the town where no KDF soldier were deployed. The hotel alleged to have been burnt KDF is not anywhere near where the attack happened. Those accusing KDF off breach of human rights, violence and rape are trying to undermine the gains the military has done to secure this country," Col Oguna said yesterday.

KDF said that immediately after receiving the information about the attack on the soldiers, a team was dispatched to coordinate the recovery of the truck and bodies of the murder soldiers.

They then provided a cordon around the village in which the attackers were reported to have entered but only the police entered and conducted a search to flush out the criminals.

Meanwhile, Garissa County Commissioner Mohammed Maalim has reassured area residents of calm following last two days chaotic scenes where members of the public were terrorized by KDF soldiers following the killings of three of their colleagues by unknown criminals.

Maalim who was addressing the press from his office appealed to Kenyans to remain calm as the government was pursuing criminals who have led to the deaths of nine police officers and three KDF soldiers since first of July this year.

He blamed criminals for causing despondency in town between security agents and members of the public but said their days were numbered.

The Commissioner took issue with a section of area youths who were creating inter tribal animosity between various communities in town saying that security agents are pursuing them and will be brought to justice.

The administrator said the county had enough police officers to take charge of security saying that no more KDF soldiers will be involved in pursuing criminals.

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