, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 24 – At least eight people were seriously wounded early Thursday after they were hit by stray bullets fired by Al Shabaab militants who have been fighting with Somalia government troops near the Kenyan border.
The incident occurred at Bulawayo, a border point in Mandera town which lies on the border lines of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
“We are aware that about eight people have been injured and those are admitted to hospital. Al Shabaab has been fighting on the other side but they have not managed to cross over to our side,” Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti confirmed.
He said that the victims had sustained serious bullet wounds during the Wednesday night incident that went on to Thursday morning.
Saitoti who is also the acting Foreign Affairs Minister told a Parliamentary committee that had demanded to know the status of security at the border point.
“It is a situation that we are monitoring very very closely and I can tell you here that all the security forces within the government have been mobilised to secure our border,” he said.
“We must protect our territory because as you are aware those Al Shabaab elements are posing a challenge and they are always committed to carry out all kinds of atrocities, but we are doing everything we can to safeguard our border.”
And he warned: “Those who want to infiltrate our border must be prepared to face the full force of the law. Our officers are on the ground.”
Earlier, North Eastern Provincial Commissioner Joseph Ole Serian told Capital News that a stray bomb had landed at the Mandera District Hospital but no casualties were reported.
“There has been fighting since yesterday (Wednesday), they are fighting on the other side but occasionally there are stray bullets and bombs that land in Mandera, four people were hit by stray bullets but they were only injured,” Mr Ole Serian said in a telephone interview with Capital News.
“They are using very sophisticated weapons in the war, and they even threw a bomb that strayed into a hospital here but luckily no one was injured,” he added.
“The hospital has a large compound and it landed in the bush at the hospital compound, far away from the building blocks,” he said.
Fighters loyal to Al Shabaab have been throwing missiles to Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops near the common border since Wednesday, forcing the government to deploy more security forces to Mandera.
Mr Ole Serian said more security forces have been deployed to the area to ensure the fighting on the other side of the country does not spill over to the Kenyan side.
“There should be no cause for alarm, the war is not on our side, it is only that where they are fighting is close to our border side but we have intensified security patrols,” he added.
“We are concentrating at the border point one which is a common place for Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya,” he said.
On Thursday morning, Kenya army officers repulsed members of the Al Shabaab militia group who tried to enter Kenya through Bulawayo border point in Mandera.
Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News that the Al Shabaab militiamen had tried to enter Kenya after they were overpowered by troops of the TFG of Somalia who have been fighting them.
Mr Ongeri said the army officers managed to repulse the Al Shabaab militiamen but as they were returning back to their camp, they were involved in a road accident.
“We have seven of our officers who were wounded after an accident when their Land Rover overturned,” he said on telephone. “The officers were returning from Bulawayo where they had successfully repulsed Al Shabaab fighters.”
He said three of them were due to be airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment later Thursday.
Mr Ongeri denied reports that the accident was a result of an attack by Al Shabaab fighters from the neighbouring country.
“It is a normal accident, it is true there was an engagement with Al Shabaab members and our army officers but none of our officers was wounded until when they were involved in an accident hours later,” he said.
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