NAIROBI, KENYA, Nov 22 – The Cabinet on Thursday approved the establishment of an inquiry into the killing of security officials and the subsequent destruction of property in Baragoi and Garissa.
President Mwai Kibaki chaired the meeting at the State House Nairobi which also approved the reconstruction of the destroyed Garissa market and also help facilitate the traders to resume operations as soon as possible.
A statement from State House said: “The Cabinet met and discussed at length the security challenges that the country has faced in the last few weeks. In this regard the Cabinet outlined and adapted various steps to be taken to ensure the security of Kenyans and their property.”
The Cabinet condemned the killing of security officers and the death of civilians in Baragoi, Garissa and Eastleigh and vowed to take all necessary steps to rid the country off the forces of terrorists and other criminal elements.
The Cabinet appealed to all the branches of government to work together in the fight against forces that were out to create insecurity in the country.
“The Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary must work together and send a clear signal that terrorists and other criminal elements will be dealt with firmly and decisively, and that there was no room for impunity on the part of any leader or citizen.
Ten people have so far died while more than 30 other remain wounded following an explosion that went off inside a minibus in Eastleigh on Sunday. In Baragoi, 48 police officers were massacred and others seriously injured when they were ambushed by bandits as they tried to recover stolen livestock.
Whereas three suspects are in police custody over Sunday’s explosion in Eastleigh, no recovery of the livestock has been reported in Baragoi apart from one G3 rifle that has been recovered.
In Garissa, three Kenya Defence Forces officers were shot by assailants along Garissa’s Kismayu Street as they tried to repair their vehicle’s tyre.
Tension built up immediately after security officers were deployed on the ground to trail the suspects. Residents accused security officers of harassing them with no justified cause, allegations that security forces have dismissed.
The Kenya Defence Forces however dismissed reports accusing them of criminal activities during the operation in Garissa town.
“Allegations suggesting KDF committed atrocities in Garissa are false and must cease. It should be appreciated that following the killing of the soldiers and subsequently the hot pursuit of the gunmen mayhem broke out with locals engaging security agencies through violence, prompting the police to fire teargas to control the irate crowd,” military spokesman Cyrus Oguna said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, MPs engaged in heated debate over the conduct of the Kenya Defence Forces after the shooting of three soldiers, with KDF being accused of rights violations.
Trouble started when Defence Assistant Minister David Musila told the House that the KDF was not deployed in Garissa after the shooting saying a platoon was deployed out of the Garissa camp to assist the police who were pursuing the assailants.
Musila trigged intervention from MPs who said he was contradicting his Internal Security Minister who told Parliament that the Provincial Intelligence and Security Committee (PSIC) had not okayed the security operation.
“I have said in my statement it was a spontaneous reaction; soldiers are killed their colleagues reacted spontaneously, there was no order Mr Speaker and the PISC report states as much,” Musila said.
“On the floor this House, (Internal Security Minister) Katoo ole Metito made it very clear that neither the PSIC nor District Intelligence and Security Committee was involved in the operation,” – Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro countered.
MPs from Garissa County including Farah Maalim (Lagdera) and Aden Duale (Dujis) accused the military of participating in human right violations and causing damage to commercial property in the town.
“The manner in which this ministerial statement was handled reminds me of the way the government handled the Wagalla Massacre in 1984, to straight away look us in the eyes and mislead the nation,” Deputy Speaker Maalim added.
Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo argued: “If indeed they were not urged to go into action (by their commanding officer), is the minister therefore confirming there was a mutiny.”
Speaker Kenneth Marende halted the debate and ruled MPs wait for report from a joint parliamentary committee probing the attacks in Garissa, Eastleigh and Baragoi.
–Laban Wanambisi contributed to this report–