Kenya: Mandera Bus Sprayed With Bullets in Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack

6 October 2020

At least eight travellers were injured Tuesday when suspected Al-Shabaab militants sprayed a bus with bullets in Mandera South.

Deputy County Commissioner Joshua Kitakwa said the incident happened between Elwak town and Kotulo.

"We are yet to know the exact number of injured people. So far no deaths have been reported," he said by phone without giving details.

However, a source at Kotulo Sub-county Hospital, where the injured were first taken, said at least four people were in critical condition.

"We have received at least eight victims but four are in need of specialised care," said the source.

Survivor's account

The bus christened Makkah left Mandera town at about 8am and was ambushed at about noon.

A survivor who spoke on anonymity said the gunshots flattened the vehicle's tyres and damaged its fuel tank.

"It rained bullets as the driver maneuvered. He stopped after the tyres were deflated," he said.

The gunmen fled without inspecting the bus as they always do in such incidents.

Police escorts

Kotulo MCA Mohamed Rashid said he was informed that the attack was by about eight armed people.

"Eye witnesses say the attackers shot at the bus after the driver defied their order to stop," said Mr Rashid.

The MCA wants security improved on the road and questioned why the police were not escorting the bus as always.

"We need to be told why the bus left Elwak town without police escorts," he said.

Since 2015, armed police have been accompanying buses in efforts to derail the terrorists.

Retaliation

The incident came amid reports that the militants were planning a retaliatory attack after some of their fighters were killed in a clash with the Kenya Defence Forces in August.

The intelligence report shared last Friday indicated that on the same day at Welshid within Gedo, an Al-Shabaab fighter who died in the September 26 clash with KDF was buried.

"During the secret burial attended by an Al-Shabaab operation commander for the Gedo region, fighters were urged to prepare for a revenge mission. Konton KDF camp was mentioned as their key target," reads the report.

It says the commander demanded a successful mission despite intensified security in the area.

"Al-Shabaab operatives are desperate and under pressure from their top commanders to attack a key target within our border with Somalia. They are also looking for drugs to treat their injured operatives so they might also target hospitals in addition to security camps," the report says.

Long history

The terror group has been carrying out attacks in several parts of the country since Kenya contributed troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in 2012.

It's most gruesome attack took place at Garissa University College on April 2, 2015, when 148 people, most of them students, were massacred.

At Nairobi's Westgate Mall on September 21, 2013, 67 people were killed in an ambush that resulted in a four-day siege.

On October 6, three people were abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Mandera County.

Mandera head of criminal investigations Benedict Kigen said the victims were masons who were going to Lafey town for work.

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