Woman killed, scores injured in Mandera

February 25, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – One person was shot dead and more than 10 others seriously wounded in an attack at the Kenya-Somalia border where Al Shabaab militias are fighting with Somali government forces and troops.

The Kenya Red Cross on Friday reported that those wounded were being treated at the Mandera district hospital.

"One woman has been reported dead at Border Point One and 10 casualties are being treated at Mandera District Hospital," Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said in a statement.

He said the fighting that started at about 10am on Friday did not spare the Red Cross offices where several gun shots were fired, but no casualty was reported.

"Several gunshots flying in the air across the border have hit the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) offices in Mandera, where six members of staff are holed up, like many other residents of Mandera town," Mr Gullet said.

"The gunshots have rocked the town, keeping residents and refugees indoors," he said.

The Society\’s Spokesman Titus Mung\’ou said the situation had put the lives of humanitarian workers and other residents of Mandera town in grave danger.

"We have reported this latest incident to the Government and hope the KRCS offices, which have a Red Cross emblem flag hoisted on the rooftop, will be protected," he said.

The Red Cross emblem is a protected symbol, under the Geneva Conventions, and all warring parties are required to respect it, he added.

"Hundreds of refugees are now scattered on the Kenyan side of the border, as it is risky to gather in camps until fighting ceases," he said.

Hundreds of families began fleeing Mandera town Friday following the intense fighting that has been going on at the Kenya-Somalia border since Wednesday.

Reports from Mandera indicate that schools, government offices and hospitals had been shut for stray ammunition that has been hammering the border town.

A councillor who spoke to Capital News from Mandera said although no physical attacks had occurred in the town, residents were worried of the bullets that "are being fired from various directions whenever the troops are fighting the militiamen."

On Thursday morning, eight people were struck by bullets fired by militia men who have been fighting AU troops on the Somalia side.

"It is scaring, you cannot know when a bullet will land near you and that is why people are running for safety," the councillor who only identified himself as Ahmed said.

"Some houses have gone up in flames since morning and we don\’t know who are burning them but we highly suspect it has something to do with what is going on at the border," Ahmed added.

He said Mandera town remained deserted for the better part of Friday, and only military and police trucks were seen parked strategically with heavily armed officers.

"People are running towards remote areas far away from Mandera, we don\’t want to become victims," he added "This place now is inhabitable, there are heavy gunfire renting the air every after a couple of hours. They are not fighting far away from the Kenyan side."

The situation was made worse when a bomb was hurled at the Mandera district hospital but no one was hurt because it landed on an open field.

North Eastern Provincial Commissioner Joseph ole Serian told Capital News that the bomb could have caused a major disaster "were it not that it landed on an open field."

"The hospital covers a large area, we are lucky it landed on an open ground, it could have been disastrous," ole Serian said on telephone from where he was coordinating security.

Some 14 African Union soldiers flown from Mogadishu were still admitted to hospitals in Mombasa where they have been receiving treatment for bullet wounds since Thursday.

Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News they had enhanced security at the border towns to ensure Al-Shabaab fighters do not cross over into Kenya.

"The war is not in Kenya, these people are fighting on the other side of the border but the effects are being felt on our side because it is not far away. But Kenyans should be assured that we are safe, we have enough security at the border," Mr Ongeri said.

He said Kenyan soldiers admitted to the Forces Memorial hospital after they were involved in an accident as they returned from border patrols in Mandera were out of danger.

The soldiers had managed to repulse Al Shabaab fighters who had tried to enter Kenya on Thursday when their truck overturned, injuring seven of them.

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