Mandera officials refute allegations that al-Shabaab control

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Mandera officials refute allegations that al-Shabaab control

Unread post by zeru » 11 Feb 2014 17:23

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With no international beacons or demarcations to clearly mark the boundaries, the town of Mandera extends across both borders, with the Ethiopian border town ...
A Kenyan parliamentary report presented last month has painted a dismal picture of the security situation in the north-eastern town of Mandera, saying unequivocally that security forces have surrendered the town to al-Shabaab.
A Kenyan parliamentary report presented last month has painted a dismal picture of the security situation in the north-eastern town of Mandera, saying unequivocally that security forces have surrendered the town to al-Shabaab.
As critical as the report is, it has drawn mixed reactions from citizens and officials in Mandera County.
While citizens are asking for greater protection from the militant group, officials say their security efforts are not always visible because of the unique challenges they face in the triangular border area between Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
During a visit to Mandera last October in the wake of al-Shabaab's siege of Westgate mall, members of the joint parliamentary committee tasked with authoring the report established that ill-equipped home guards, not police officers, were the ones patrolling the town.
Parliament resumed Tuesday (February 11th) after the December break and will discuss the joint committee's entire report on the Westgate attack, including the Mandera findings, from February 18th to the 20th, according to Majority Leader Aden Duale.
Ilyas Barre Shill, Fafi parliamentarian and a member of the joint committee, said al-Shabaab is in control of Mandera.
"It appears that al-Shabaab has inflicted fear among the police officers with frequent improvised explosive devices, grenade and gun attacks," Shill told Sabahi. "As a result, police avoid venturing onto the streets for patrols and remain confined in police quarters."
"Residents told us that until 2011, security officers were a common feature in the town chasing smugglers of goods from Somalia," he said. "But these days, the officers are only spotted when VIPs visit the town from Nairobi."
Residents also said that gunshots and explosions are common sounds in Mandera, Shill said, adding that al-Shabaab has been blamed for hurling grenades at offices of international aid agencies in the town.

The report findings, recommendations


Security forces generally do not have control of the town, especially at night, according to the report.
"The government should post more security personnel to boost patrols along the border in Mandera County," the report said. "There is literally no police presence or patrol in the town at night. The town is patrolled by a handful of home-guards who are not properly equipped to deal with militia insurgence."
The committee, co-chaired by Baringo East representative Asman Kamama Abongotum and Tetu representative Ndung'u Gethenji, recommended that the "no-man's land" area along the border be cleared and the border between Kenya and Somalia clearly demarcated.
Currently, there are temporary kiosks and mortar-walled homes in the "no-man's land" area, but the committee said all structures should be demolished and a trench dug along the border to permit crossing only at designated entry points.
The report recommended that a number of administration police posts be re-opened immediately, the military camp there be strengthened and better equipped, and military personnel be deployed to patrol along the border with Somalia.
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