Saturday, December 22, 2012

Panic as al-Shabaab turn Garissa into killing field

National Bank, Garissa Branch employee Timothy Kihuria, a survivor of Garissa shooting by suspected gunmen shortly after 7 PM on December 20, 2012 recuperating at Garissa Provincial General Hospital. Photo/BILLY MUTAI

National Bank, Garissa Branch employee Timothy Kihuria, a survivor of Garissa shooting by suspected gunmen shortly after 7 PM on December 20, 2012 recuperating at Garissa Provincial General Hospital. Photo/BILLY MUTAI  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN NGIRACHU jngirachu@ke.nationmedia.com

Suspected al-Shabaab militants have shot dead three people and injured a man in Garissa, the second attack in the town this month.

Two of the men were attacked along Kenyatta Street around 7.20pm on Thursday. The attackers then shot another man in a backstreet about 300 metres from Kenyatta Street.

One of the men killed was an employee of the National Bank, while the other — Mr John Kamau — was a civil servant at the Kenya News Agency, which is under the Information ministry.
The third victim is yet to be identified.

Shot on the back

Mr Timothy Kihuria, another National Bank employee, survived the attack and was admitted to the Garissa Provincial General Hospital.

Speaking in hospital, Mr Kihuria said he was with his colleague, Mr Ben Kihang’a, and they had eaten supper and watched the 7 pm news when they walked out of the hotel.

As they made way for a passing car, he heard loud footfalls, and when he looked back, he saw a pistol at the back of his friend’s head.

Mr Kihuria was shot on the back of both legs as he fled and ducked, eventually hiding behind a parked lorry and ending up at another restaurant, where he received first aid before being rushed to the hospital.

Mr Kamau, the Information ministry employee, ran into the attackers as they fled and was killed in a backstreet nearby.

Garissa police boss George Ali said no arrests had been made in connection with the killings, but police are receiving information that could help identify the prime suspects.

The attack happened as clerics in the town led by Mr Joseph Muema of the Church on the Rock, asked the government to reinforce security in churches during the festive season.

There have been terrorist attacks in Garissa, Mombasa and Eastleigh in Nairobi, mostly using grenades, since the launch of Operation Linda Nchi to rout Al-Shabaab from Southern Somalia. More than 50 people have been killed and scores injured.

Al-Shabaab has previously claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.

Thursday evening’s attacks were the second in which the terrorists have attempted to shoot civilians.

A civilian and a member of the Kenya Defence Forces were shot dead in Garissa Ndogo in the outskirts of the town on December 9.