Al-Shabaab kills, abducts gov’t officers in northeast Kenya

Al-Shabaab militants killed at least six Kenyans including four police officers in an attack in Kenya’s northeast, on Wednesday after 10pm (local time).

Media reports indicated that at least six people – including a police driver, two local officials and an intelligence officer, are presumed to have been kidnapped.

Kenyan news outlets reported that al Shabaab paraded three Kenyan government officials in Gedo on Friday and pledged to ‘punish them in public’.

Read the news reports from two Kenyan outlets below.

Al Shabaab claims attacks in Gerille

(January 14, 2012) The al Shabaab yesterday paraded three Kenyan government officials in Gedo and promised to punish them in public 24-hours after gunmen attacked an AP camp in Gerille, Wajir and killed seven people. The insurgents summoned residents in the village to assemble and paraded the three Kenyans. They informed the villagers that they will prosecute and punish the three in public saying that Kenya had invaded Somalia and was assassinating innocent Somalis.

The insurgents also closed down all communication in the area in fear that informers would tip off Kenyan security agents on the whereabouts of the hostages. Al Shabaab, in its twitter post, claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday and promised to conduct more of such raids. "Responding to aggressive Kenyan invasion against Muslims of Somalia, HSM special forces raided Kenyan Administration Police camp in Gerille.

The raid occurred at 1915hrs on Wednesday night. Seven Kenyan administration police and government officials killed while others were taken prisoner. In the carefully coordinated attack. Mujahideen seized Kenyan vehicles, communication equipment and a cache of weapons during the raid," HSMPress tweet said.

Al Shabaab has promised to publish the identity of the hostages at an appropriate time. "HSMPress office will publish the identities of the prisoners when time is appropriate….Insha Allah," the tweet said. The attackers and the hostages were spotted in Harag village in Lowe Juba region on Thursday morning where they made a stop over for lunch and were reported to be headed for Kismayu which remains their only stronghold after the group was flushed out of Southern Somalia by a combined force of Transitional Federal Government, AMISOM and Kenyan troops. Two government officials feared to have been kidnapped by the bandits were rescued by a team of security agents on Thursday night.

Source: Al Shabaab claims attacks in Gerille – (The Star)

Shabaab kill 7; steal arms and vehicle at AP campKenyan police transporting bodies after Al-Shabaab attack in north-east Kenya

(January 13,2012) – Suspected Somali Islamist rebels killed at least seven people, including three police officers, in an attack on a police outpost before abducting several other Government officials in a shocking assault on Kenyan soil.

And following the attacks, President Kibaki called a Cabinet meeting, although it was not clear what was discussed or the action the Government would take.

Regional Commissioner Wenslas Ongayo said scores of gunmen threw grenades and other explosives as they stormed the police camp in Gerille, a town near the porous border in Wajir South. "They killed three Administration Police officers, a police reservist, and two civil servants working with the registration department," Ongayo said by telephone.

The seventh victim is a local schoolteacher who died in the crossfire. Among those missing are seven AP officers. Two others walked back to the camp several hours after the Wednesday evening incident. The assailants also seized a Government vehicle they used to abduct the Government officials.

A police source said among the missing are a police driver; three local officials who include a DO, an intelligence officer, a Registrar of Persons officials, and two others they are presumed to have been kidnapped.

Thursday, a chopper flew two of the injured officers to Nairobi for treatment.

Among the dead was a teacher at the local primary school and an expectant mother. Wajir OCPD George Toni confirmed that the armed raiders made away with a police vehicle, and communication equipment. But there were reports that the militants also snatched firearms from the armoury. The attack happened as the officers were conducting evening prayers. In what appears to have been a carefully planned attack, the raiders first disabled police communications to block reinforcements from Wajir Bor, and Khorof Harar police posts.

The attack that occurred on Wednesday shortly before 7pm was only discovered four hours later after the militants ransacked the village when residents fled into nearby thickets. The daring attacks are believed to be in retaliation for the killing of an Al Shabaab leader in Somalia.

Sources told The Standard the abducted Kenyans, who include Burder DO Jesse Mulee were spotted in Xagar in Somalia on a stopover for lunch at 1pm. They were said to be heading to Kismayu. Xagar is about 25km from Afmadow where Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) pitched camp.

It was one of the heaviest terror attacks since KDF began Operation Linda Nchi against Al Shabaab.

Senior police officers led by North Eastern PC James ole Serian flew to the area yesterday, as other senior officers held a crisis meeting in Nairobi. "We have sent more officers to comb the area," said one officer.

The attack caught the officers at the Gherille AP camp in Wajir South by surprise as they had retreated to their tents when it happened, locals said. They had been supervising registration in the area for the better part of the day, before the gang attacked.

Witnesses said some 40 gunmen crossed over to Kenya from Somalia in five vehicles and surrounded the camp before attacking with grenades and bullets.

"They besieged the camp for several minutes before they later escaped with weapons and a vehicle. It seems they have a new drive moving them," added another officer.

The insurgents raided the AP post where the truck had been parked following daylong registration of persons in Gherille. Security on both sides of the border has been volatile since December, last year. The insurgents drove back into Somalia, according to local sources.

On December 22, last year, the KDF hit a group of Al Shabaab militants in the Somali side of Gherille and killed an Al Shabaab commander, Abdirashid Garbe using mortar and helicopter strikes.

During the attack Al Shabaab lost four militiamen after ambushing KDF ground forces and killing a Kenyan gunner manning an armoured personnel carrier.

Sources indicate Al Shabaab has lost huge swathes of territory to the KDF and troops of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The militia and its sympathisers have in the last two weeks tried to launch attacks in Kenya to avert a looming capture of more territory by KDF in southern Somalia.

Military sources said it was a last ditch attempt by the group to raise the morale of its fighters in the Bardheere stronghold on Somalia’s Jube river.

The Somalia insurgents have increasingly resorted to ambush attacks following the loss of their stronghold in Fafadun on January 3, and El Ade in Somalia two days later, to KDF and TFG forces. They have lately detonated landmines and other improvised explosive devices, including remote controlled bombs and laid ambushes, but after three months of conflict KDF has officially only lost two soldiers in the fighting.

In an ambush of KDF and TFG forces on Friday last week, the militants lost 28 fighters, including a Kenyan, and killed five TFG soldiers, wounding several.

Gherille lies on the main highway between the southern part of Kenya’s Wajir District and Fafadun town in Somalia. The Kenyan side of Gherille has remained vulnerable following the departure of KDF on January 3, as they moved to capture Fafadun, 120km away.

Read more on: The Standard | Shabaab kill 7; steal arms and vehicle at AP camp



Check the Kenya  archive or the Somalia archive for previous and forthcoming posts.

Daniel Berhane

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