An uneasy calm returned to Garissa Town on Wednesday after three days of a police crackdown on gangs behind a series of recent attacks in the area.
Seven county representatives were among those arrested on the second day of the crackdown but were freed without charges.
At the same time more than 80 people were arraigned in a local court charged with various offences. None of them was linked to the attacks, including last week’s at Kwa Chege food kiosk in which 10 people died.
Five of the suspects were charged with being in Kenya illegally and were freed on Sh100,000 bail. The rest were charged with failure to apply for identity cards and fined Sh1,000 each.
Police were interrogating “high value” suspects before taking them to court.
Some traders who had kept away from the town since the crackdown started were back in business but the majority of shops remained closed.
Trader Abdul Ahmed said: “The crackdown has paralysed business because all the customers fled. Police came here on Tuesday and asked everybody to produce their ID cards. Some were arrested and others spared. For the last three days I have struggled to make Sh10,000 which I used to make comfortably in a day.”
Some residents feared they would be arrested and had only gone to the town because it was necessary to do so.
Police chiefs were held up in a meeting to prepare a list of officers who would be transferred because their continued presence was deemed counterproductive.
A purge in the police was one of the recommendations by a team of security chiefs led by Internal Security permanent secretary Mutea Iringo and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo that visited the town on Saturday.