ONE police reservist and a young woman have been confirmed dead after an attack in Mandera by suspected al Shabaab militia on Thursday night. Mandera town police boss Jackson Rotich said the police have been pursuing suspected militia men in Mandera town for the past two days.
"On Wednesday night a saloon car without number plates was used in town with people who opened fire on officers. No-one was injured and nobody was arrested," said Rotich.
At 9pm on Thursday night, Kenya Police Reserve engaged the militia in a gun battle at a road barrier next to Mandera Secondary School. Rotich said the suspected militia targeted the KPR officers at the road barrier but the reservists used the school perimeter wall as a shield. The woman was shot while closing her shop at the barrier.
"The bullets that killed the woman were from the militia since you can clearly see that her shop was in a direct lone from the bush where the militia were shooting from," said Rotich. "You can count up to seven holes on the iron sheet shop but the young woman was hit in the head," says Rotich.
A grenade was then hurled into the Central AP Post killing one KPR officer and injuring another. The police boss said regular, administration police and KPR were on duty at the time.
Speaking from his hospital bed, injured police reservist Abdi Adan Abdullahi said they were only four KPRs at the time of attack. Abdi said they were sitting in a trench when the grenade hit Aliyo Mustapha killing him on the spot.
"I was hit on my left thigh but my colleagues shot at the attackers as we called for reinforcement," said Abdi. Dr Joseph Mutie, the medical superintendent in charge of the Mandera Referral Hospital, described Abdi's condition as stable.
"We can discharge him as early as tomorrow," said Dr. Mutie. He said Abdi only suffered minor burns on his left thigh. Police officers were withdrawn from the Central AP post after it was attacked last year and two police officers killed and vehicles burnt.
The post was then left in the hands of the KPR, according to a source in Mandera town. "You can't exactly explain the happenings in Mandera. We have been peaceful for almost a year but these two days have been indefinable," said Rotich who has been OCPD in town since March 2012.
"We are looking for answers to questions like who are these people and what is their motive?". The joint parliamentary committee investigation into the Westgate attack last September noted that security forces in Mandera did not have full control of the town, especially at night. The MPs called on the government to take tough measures to loosen the grip of al Shabaab.
The two committees co-chaired by Asman Kamama and Ndung'u Gethenji recommended demolition of illegal structures in no-mans land and digging a trench at the border between Kenya and Somalia to deter immigrants from crossing. Neither recommendation has yet been effected.