NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – “Pray for me,” were the last words Martin Otieno heard from her shaken daughter Lysa Achieng.
His daughter was among the 10 artistes who had gone to Mandera for the last three weeks to perform in various public schools ahead of the national examinations.
According to the father, Achieng first called at 10.45pm and then at 12.00 and just uttered the three words; pray for me.
“Her voice was shaky,” Otieno told Capital FM News on Wednesday at Chiromo Mortuary, where they had gone to identify her body.
Twelve people died during the night attack.
It is the need to earn a living, just like any other young Kenyan with no formal employment that took Achieng to Mandera, an area that has been frequented by terror attacks from the war torn Somalia based militia.
And just before she left for Mandera, Otieno says they had a ‘serious’ conversation over her safety since, “Mandera is not a good place-security wise- in the recent times.”
It is Achieng who convinced her father that the team was going to be safe since the hotel they were staying in was just a few metres from security facilities.
“When she arrived, Achieng called and said, Dad, we shall be safe here,” he recalled. “She said the security was perfect and where they were going to stay was next to KDF camp.”
She may be gone, but her father has fond memories of his daughter.
“She was outspoken, brave and with a bright future,” he said of his 20 years old daughter.
Otieno had been joined by his brother Chris Abiel at the morgue, who wondered why non-locals were being killed in Mandera and other Northern Kenya towns.
“Is it that Northern Kenya has been barricaded and cut off from Kenya?” he asked. “It is not the first time. We have a series of attacks that have claimed innocent lives.”
He wondered: “What will Kenyans, who are self-employed do when duty calls?”
He has urged the Government to rein in on the rogue elements in the area and to also deal with the porous border between Kenya and Somalia.
“We want our children to work in all parts of the country without fear of being killed the next minute by these evil people,” he said.
Their queries may not be answered, but they want the security apparatus in the country to “stop the madness. Kenya belongs to all of us.”
Achieng was killed alongside her acting partner Kennedy Njoroge.
Their sentiments are echoed by other relatives and colleagues, who want the Government to crack the whip and deal with both members of Al Shabaab terror group and their sympathizers.
“They were really passionate about their job,” one of the actors, who did not want to be named, said. “Those were great talents whose dreams have been shattered.”
“North Eastern Is part of our country…we would really like to work there just like in Nyeri, Kisii, Kisumu and other parts of the country. We are looking for money like any other workers. We should not be stopped from doing what we love.”
The region has known no peace in the recent years from the militia.
By Thursday evening, only three bodies have been identified out of the 12 people who were killed ahead of post mortem exercise according to the National Disaster Management Unit.
Nine victims of the attack are admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital but are in a stable condition.
The United States has condemned the attack while assuring the country of more support in fighting the menace.
“We express our deep sympathies to the victims and their families,” reads a statement from their embassy.
“We will continue to work in partnership with regional governments and AMISOM to deliver a lasting defeat to terrorist groups that seek to undermine regional stability.”
TERROR ATTACKS IN NORTHERN KENYA
On October 18, a night guard killed by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and gunmen in Mandera.
The officers who were driving through the town were stopped by the gunmen who disguised themselves as women in buibuis but shortly after a shootout ensued.
The officers were driving a vehicle belonging to the area Governor Ali Roba, who was not present during the incident.
Last year, several workers were killed in the County.
On July 7, 2015 at least 14 people were killed and several others wounded in a gun attack near a military camp at the Kenyan border with Somalia.
The victims were workers from a local quarry in Mandera County.
In December 2014 Al Shabaab killed 36 quarry workers in Mandera town.
The attack occurred while the workers were asleep.
The deadliest assault to date happened at Garissa University College in April, when four gunmen killed 148 people, majority being students.
In the attacks, the militia separated Muslims –majority locals- before killing the rest.