, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – Hundreds of Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi on Friday to demonstrate against the government’s laxity to fight Al Shabaab militiamen at the border with Somalia.
The protests were organized by civil society organizations to press the government to act on dangers posed by the militia group which last week launched an offensive against troops of the Transitional Government of Somalia (TFG) from vantage positions at border towns near Kenya.
They waved placards saying “We are ready to defend Kenya,” “Al Sha Kenya ready to fight Al Shabaab” as they marched through the city streets chanting anti- Al Shabaab slogans.
The demonstrators who numbered about 500 wore white t-shirts and waved Kenyan flags and those of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
“We are tired of hearing that Kenyans have been killed at the border with Somalia, this government is not serious in fighting Al Shabaab and we want more action,” Allan Omondi, a demonstrator said.
They marched through Harambee Avenue to Police headquarters and later to the Office of the President before they headed to Uhuru Park where they burnt an effigy of an Al Shabaab militiaman.
“If the government is unable to defend our territory, we are ready to do it. We don’t want the Somalia war to escalate into Kenya because this is a peaceful country,” another demonstrator, Mercy Omollo said.
Police did not disperse the demonstrators and instead escorted them through to Uhuru Park where the demonstration was called off.
“We have never gone to fight in Somalia, why do they bring their war to our doorstep,” Richard Mwera yelled.
The demonstration came days after intensive fighting between the Al Shabaab militiamen occurred at the Kenya – Somalia border town of Mandera where dozens were wounded by stray bullets.
At least two people were reported killed during the offensive.
Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News: “the border is safe, we have enough forces there and therefore there is no need to worry.”
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere also assured that there was sufficient security at the common border with Somalia.
Following the fighting that has lasted close to a week, hundreds of Somalia refugees crossed over to Kenya causing a major humanitarian crisis at the border town.
Follow the author at https://twitter.com/momanyibernard