The Star (Nairobi)

22 November 2012

Kenya: Garissa Crackdown Was Far Too Harsh

ON Monday three soldiers were shot dead outside Garissa. The army then went on the rampage in Garissa town under the pretext of conducting a security operation.

Markets and buildings were set ablaze and up to 100 people were injured, many by gunshot wounds. The army was understandably angry about the loss of their comrades but that does not justify the violence meted out on the local people in Garissa.

The soldiers believe that the local people know the al Shabaab operatives but do not hand them over. The local people are caught between a rock and a hard place, between the terrorists and a harsh regime. Either way, they lose out if they speak out.

The way forward is to improve intelligence gathering in Garissa. The Israeli operation in Gaza is excessively aggressive but it is clear that IDF knows exactly where the militants and rocket makers are at all times. Israel must be running an extensive network of informers in Gaza. Why can't the NSIS and KDF do the same in Garissa.

The KDF needs to win hearts and minds in Garissa but this security operation is more likely to drive local people into the arms of al Shabaab.

Quote of the day: "It appears I am destined for something, I will live." - Robert Clive, English conqueror of India, died on November 22, 1773

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