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Al-Shabaab is targeting non-locals in the Mandera’s bus attacks

Non-residents of Mandera are being asked to avoid the road transport in Mandera but instead opt for air travels. The Mandera county commissioner says this is because they may be targets for Al-Shabaab on the road. “Al-Shabaab is always targeting non-locals and the security agents,” said Mr. Fredrick Shisia.

All residents have been cautioned against using certain roads due to increased threats of attack.The Commissioner further cautioned that the Government is not able to make sure that the travelers are safe and secure especially on the Elwak route.

“We have advised most road users to use the Mandera-Takaba-Moyale route because we cannot guarantee use of the Elwak route since we have not replaced two police vehicles burnt last week,” he said. “This is a short-term measure but once the Inspector General releases two vehicles needed for bus escort then we shall recommence usual business.”

Mr. Shisia said Al-Shabaab militants have intensified their movements in the region.“We have been monitor movement of Al-Shabaab and the kind of information we received over the weekend was not very good and we decided to step up our level of alertness,” he said.

Intelligence reports indicate that many Al-Shabaab militants have moved into Kenyan territory and might have set up a provisional camp at Somalia’s Bula Hawa Town. Another militant camp is reported at Boroche, a Somalia town bordering Elwak in Mandera South.

Last week, 12 policemen barely survived an attack in which suspected Al-Shabaab militants blew two police vehicles using rocket propelled grenades. The county commissioner denied that the government was discriminating against some Kenyans by asking non-locals not to uses buses and letting locals travel through the terror hotspots.

He said the government was only being cautious and buses have been allowed on the road because the owners have loans and mortgages to repay. “The target of Al-Shabaab is non-locals and security officers in Mandera and we cannot risk putting police on the road without the customized vehicles. We cannot also risk lives of non-locals on these buses too,” said Mr Shisia. “This move does not mean we have lost the fight against Al-Shabaab.”

During bus attacks in Mandera, especially in 2016, passengers were asked to alight and the attackers profiled them according to religion and race. The attackers then shot and killed the non-Muslims and non-Somalis.

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