Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kenya sets up bases to fight Somali raiders

By GALGALO BOCHA gbocha@ke.nationmedia.com

Kenya has established six patrol bases near border with Somalia following the recent kidnapping of two tourists in Lamu.

The bases at Manda, Shella, Kiwayu and Kipuni will comprise personnel from different security agencies in what analysts see as an attempt to assure of the government’s ability to contain Somali raids at the Coast.

Lamu West district commissioner Stephen Ikua said on Sunday Kenya was stepping up sea patrols “to guard our border territories and visitors and Kenyans should feel secure whenever they are around”.

Reports at the weekend said a speedboat suspected to be transporting pirates towards the Kenyan territory was bombed by foreign naval forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

Abandoned firearms

Local security sources said the attack was carried out near Ras Kamboni.

“The pirates were in shallow waters when they were spotted by foreign naval forces on patrol in the area.

“They sped off to the mainland and abandoned their firearms and the boat in waters,” said the Kenyan security officer.

A spokesman for the Department of Defence said the Kenyan military was not involved in the operation.

“There are many foreign forces patrolling the Somali coast as a result of an increase in piracy incidents maybe one of them was involved in the attack,” a spokesman at DoD said.

The government last week set up a central command to coordinate security operations on the Kenya-Somalia border. (READ:Security shake-up over Lamu raids)

The control centre will link police and military operations in securing the border on land, sea and air.

A senior security officer told the Nation the idea was mooted after it was realised that no single agency could detect and repel foreigners on its own.

The proposed command centre would operate round the clock, but no decision had been made whether it will be hosted by the Navy or Army.

The Lamu tourist abductions have adversely affected tourism in Lamu, with hoteliers reporting massive cancellations.

Britain and France have advised their citizens against travelling to the island after suspected Somali bandits abducted Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu, 66. (READ: Kenya holds man over Frenchwoman's kidnap)

Ms Dideu was kidnapped from her cottage in Manda on October 1, three weeks after another gang raided Kiwayu Village and killed Mr David Tebutt before abducting his wife, Judith.

Yet to demand ransom

The Kiwayu raid led to the closure of the exclusive resort, rendering dozens of employees jobless.

It is believed Ms Tebutt in being held in Somalia, though her captors are yet to demand any ransom.

There are reports that French elite forces may be used to rescue Ms Dedieu, who was disabled and ailing.

A source at France’s defence ministry told the Daily Telegraph of Britain that its forces based in Djibouti were “involved” in the search for Ms Dedieu.