Kenya Police in hot pursuit of Al Shabaab assassins

December 22, 2011 10:53 am


Al Shabaab militants at a training ground in Somalia/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 22 – Police have launched an investigation and search for alleged Al Shabaab assassins said to be targeting a Cabinet Minister and the Deputy House Speaker for elimination, for leading the fight against the militias in Somalia.

A source at the CID headquarters told Capital News that director Ndegwa Muhoro had picked out a team which has been given the specific task of looking for the assassins.

Some of the officers will be based in Nairobi while others have been sent to North Eastern Province, where the Defense Minister Yusuf Haji and Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim come from.

“There are officers who have been assigned to ensure they get the Al Shabaab who are said to be in the country to eliminate leaders,” the police source said. He did not state the number of officers involved.

The officer also confirmed that no suspect had been arrested or questioned over the matter so far, but revealed that “there are crucial clues being pursued.”

Revelations about the assassination plot were revealed in Parliament on Wednesday through a letter authored by Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia.

Kimemia said in the letter that the suspected Al Shabaab assassins were dispatched from Lower Juba to areas of Lagdera and Ijara, with express instructions to eliminate the two leaders.

His letter did not state the exact number of assassins thought to have crossed the border into Kenya.

“Similarly, the militia has dispatched some unidentified explosive experts from the Buale area of Southern Somalia to attack Habaswein and Elwak markets on undisclosed dates,” Kimemia’s letter read in part.

The December 15th letter copied to Haji and Maalim states that the North Eastern Provincial Commissioner James Ole Serian is under firm instructions to enhance security in his region, in the wake of a series of blasts mainly targeting security agents.

“Al Shabaab appears determined to continue pursuing targets in Kenya. You should continue with security vigilance to deter infiltration and also apprise the targeted officials of the new and persisting threats,” the PS wrote in the letter to the North Eastern PC.

When the matter was raised in Parliament on Wednesday, Haji announced that he would not be “intimidated or cowed by the Al Shabaab threats.”

“We have reports that the Al Shabaab have sent militants to target us, but I want to say here that I will not be cowed from doing that which I am supposed to do to protect out territorial integrity,” the Minister told Parliament.

“Our troops will continue with their work inside Somalia until we liberate the Somali people from the criminal network which has reigned there for 40 years. We will not be cowed at all,” he said without elaborating on measures the government was taking to protect them against the fresh threats.

The Defense Minister said the joint security operation by Kenya Defense Forces and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government forces in pursuit of Al Shabaab in South and Central Somalia was unstoppable.

“We will not stop at all. The war against Al Shabaab is unstoppable,” he said.

MPs urged the government to put in place proper measures to protect the two government officials from what Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara termed as “these very serious threats of assassination. The government must protect them. We want to know if proper security measures have been put in place to guarantee their security.”

Since Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia two months ago, north-eastern Kenya has been hit by a series of blasts, many targeting local security forces.

Kenyan officials blame the Al Shabaab insurgents or their sympathisers for the bombings and shootings, although armed bandits also operate in the border areas.

Gunmen seized two Spaniards working for Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) from Dadaab in October and are thought to have taken them to Somalia.

The kidnapping of the Spaniards was one of the incidents that spurred Kenya to send troops into Somalia to fight the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militia in mid-October.

Regional armies are now pushing against Al Shabaab positions in Somalia, with Kenyan forces in the south, Ugandan and Burundian African Union forces in Mogadishu, and Ethiopian troops in the west.


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