Armed men kill two miners in Mandera quarry attack

Friday May 12 2017

A quarry in Mandera. Two miners have Friday morning been killed by armed men in a quarry in Qalengelesa, Mandera South Sub County. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A quarry in Mandera. Two miners have Friday morning been killed by armed men in a quarry in Qalengelesa, Mandera South Sub County. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MANASE OTSIALO
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Two miners have Friday morning been killed by armed men in a quarry in Qalengelesa, Mandera South Sub County.

Confirming the incident, Elwak OCPD Charles Chacha said the two were in a group of five who sneaked back to the quarry after a police operation.

“On Thursday we conducted an operation in which we collected all miners from the quarries acting on intelligence report but these five men sneaked back in the evening,” he said.

Mr Chacha said Qalengelesa is about 40 kilometres from the insecure Kenya-Somalia border and that miners have been staying in the quarries.

“They have been staying in the quarries because it is far from the border but those near the borderline only work during the day,” he said when asked why the miners were found in the quarry at night even after the government banned mining in the night.

SHABAAB ATTACKS

In 2014, after 36 miners were killed by suspected Al-Shabaab militants at a Koromey quarry, the government banned stone mining at night.

The police boss said the other three miners fled when the attackers struck adding that initial investigations, based on footprints at the scene, showed that the attackers were about six.

Bodies of the dead miners were taken to Elwak Level Four Hospital mortuary.

Mr Chacha said investigations have been launched and ruling out the possibility of it being an Al-Shabaab attack.

“We have launched investigations although we are not following up on (possible) Al-Shabaab involvement that much but the quarry owners know better than anyone else,” he said.

RIVALRY

Quarry owners in the area are said to be having a sour relationships following claims of poaching of workers among other issues.

“We understand the quarry owners have been having issues among themselves,” he said.

Mr Chacha said the bodies of the dead miners had bullet and stab wounds but declined to give the identities of the victims.

However, he said the two are probably from central Kenya.

Stone mining has attracted many job seekers from other parts of Kenya to Mandera due to attractive pay.

But the miners are always at the risk of attack from the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants.