NAIROBI, November 18 – Kenya has issued an ultimatum to the Somali militias to unconditionally return two Catholic nuns abducted a week ago in Mandera district.,
Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti said on Tuesday that the government will be relentless in protecting its borders from Somali militant attacks.
“They stole three government vehicles, are you now telling me that we should sit down and let those people to come and violate our borders. We will deal with them effectively, we have given an ultimatum to them to return them and we are very firm on that one,” he said after holding talks with British Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth.
“They violated the sovereignty of this country by crossing the border and abducting the two nuns and three drivers, we cannot allow this to happen.”
The two nuns were abducted when close to 60 men stormed El Wak town at the border district of Mandera.
They are reported to have hurled a grenade and sprayed bullets at a police station in the town before they took away the nuns from a Roman Catholic Church.
The nuns were identified as Caterina Giraudo, 67 and Maria Teresa Olivero, 60.
Prof Saitoti said the government will maintain a massive security operation at the Kenya-Somali border until the two nuns are traced alongside the three drivers.
He also said the militiamen must return three government vehicles that they stole during the raid.
Reacting to reports that families were fleeing their homes in Mandera following a security operation in the area, Prof Saitoti defended the exercise saying it will continue.
“It should not be surprising to any person that we do have beefed security around that border. And we have no apologies to make. The security is there to deter those who want to violate laws and cross to our border, they are not there to molest any Kenyans at all,” he said.
He said the government would not take any chances since Somalia and Ethiopia militias have been crossing the border and had participated in the clan fights and cattle rustling in Mandera District.
The minister further said the Kenya-Somalia border would remain closed until security is improved.
Mr Saitoti noted that cattle rustling was a challenge that the government had to deal with.
“This menace has almost become a norm among pastoralist communities, and this has to be brought to an end,” he emphasised.
The minister said he has been holding meetings with security officials and leaders from the affected areas to look for ways of resolving the issue.
City day time robberies
The Minister also assured that the government had implemented tough security measures within Nairobi central business district to arrest day time robberies which have lately rocked the city centre.
“You may not see the police in their uniforms, but I promise you, we have taken serious steps and you will notice day time crimes will come down soon,” he said.
Last month over 20 shops were raided within one week. Since then investors have threatened to close their shops after loosing colossal amounts of money and property to robbers.