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Kenya

Widow cries out for help after Mandera bus attack

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27-Behind every statistic of fatalities following a terror attack are tears of those who have lost their loved ones.

To them, it is more than just numbers.

And while the perpetrators are more than often given prominence, rarely is the story told of those left behind to deal with the lifetime loss.

Such is the tale of 29-year-old Velma Awour, who lost her husband in the February 19 bus attack in Mandera, alongside two others.

The Government has offered Sh50,000 to aid in mortuary and burial expenses, but who will feed the jobless mother of two, who is 6 months pregnant?

When Capital News caught up with Awour on Tuesday, she was entering the Chiromo Funeral Parlour, to witness the autopsy on her husband’s body.

“It is very painful,” a teary Awour said, extending her right hand to feel her baby bump.

The agreement was that when Kevin Owen Onyango leaves Mandera, a place he had worked for four months as a casual labourer in the construction site of a technical institute, they would proceed to Awasi to start putting up their rural home.

Everything was set, but the cruel hand of terror snatched Owen before their plans could come to fruition.

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-I knew he is dead on Youtube-

After 9 pm news bulletin on the fateful day, Awour started receiving calls from relatives, who were asking about the whereabouts of her husband.

“Is he still in Mandera?” one of the relatives asked.

Every caller would refer her to TV news, in what left her confused and in fear of the unknown. She had been waiting for Owen all day.

“My husband’s phone was going through, but he was not picking. I just started shaking, while fearing for the worst…,” she narrated.

But she decided to check online, in the recommended television channel, where she saw the truth, brutally displayed.

Her husband’s name was number two in the list of the dead as displayed on the screen.

“I could not believe my eyes. That is how I knew that my husband was not coming home after all,” in a quavering voice, she said.

She pleads for help since the amount offered by the Government “will not even be enough to cater for burial expenses.”

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Owen is set to be laid to rest at their Awaso home in Kisumu County.

“We just need help to take the body home,” late Owen’s brother Felix Awour told Capital News.

It is a story of every other family left by their loved ones, as authorities turn a blind eye, after failing in their mandate to maintain security.

The attacks have left pains in hundreds of families, including those of law enforcers.

-The reign of terror in the country-

The terror group has resorted to such ambush attacks or planting of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) on roads, a menace largely affecting Northern Kenya due to its proximity to war-torn Somalia and a porous border.

A section of the Coastal region has not been spared either, particularly Lamu County due to its proximity to the border.

Late 2019, some seven people, among them 3 children, escaped death by a whisker when their vehicle was hit by an IED before it was sprayed with bullets, in a suspected terror attack in Mandera County.

The driver miraculously managed to speed off some 5 kilometers away from the scene, while bleeding from a gunshot wound in his stomach.

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During the same period, two security officers died, after their car- a Toyota Landcruiser-was hit by an IED in Wajir County.

The deadly attack, which left 7 other officers with injuries, was launched by Al Shabaab militants.

In early October 2019, 11 General Service Unit (GSU) officers were killed in a deadly blast after their vehicle ran over an IED in Liboi area within Garissa County.

The incident brought to 32 the number of officers who paid the ultimate price through IED attacks in 2019 alone.

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