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Three killed as gang raids IEBC offices

Monday May 14 2012

An IEBC official collects some of the materials destroyed during an attack at the Malindi Kisumu Ndogo area on March 24, 2012. Unidentified raiders killed three people during an attack on the offices of the electoral commission in Kwale on Monday. Photo/FILE

An IEBC official collects some of the materials destroyed during an attack at the Malindi Kisumu Ndogo area on March 24, 2012. Unidentified raiders killed three people during an attack on the offices of the electoral commission in Kwale on Monday. Photo/FILE 

By AMINA KIBIRIGE [email protected] and DANIEL NYASSY [email protected]

Unidentified raiders killed three people during an attack on the offices of the electoral commission in Kwale on Monday.

The gang also stole three laptop computers, but left other valuable items.

This is the second such attack on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at the Coast, where a separatist group, the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), has vowed to disrupt elections. (READ: Outlawed gang disrupts mock polls)

Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojodeh said they had received reports about the attack whose motive was not yet known.

“We got reports in the morning about the killings. We are yet to know the motive of the attack but we are warning any group that is on such missions that they will face the full force of the law.”

Kwale police boss Richard Mugwai was cautious about linking the robbery to MRC, saying it was too early to say who was involved.

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MRC spokesman Mohamed Mraja distanced his outlawed group from the killings, saying the separatists were “peaceful”.

“In fact, I am learning of the raid from you. I want people to stop linking everything bad to MRC. We are not a criminal gang and we don’t break into other people’s offices. That was not our raid,” he said at the Mombasa courts where he was attending an MRC case.

About six men armed with clubs raided the IEBC offices at Bomani in Msambweni at 2am, the local police boss said. After brutally killing two watchmen, the gang moved to the Yehu Microfinance offices where they stole four more computers.

The attackers then entered a scrap metal yard nearby where they clobbered another watchman who died on his way to hospital.

IEBC Coast regional coordinator Amina Soud said the raid was shocking and cautioned security agents that it should serve as a wake-up call.

“In fact my officer at Msambweni is still in shock. I have asked him to go off duty today. Although we don’t suspect the raiders to be MRC members, this should serve as a wake up call to security agents,” she said by phone.

The laptop of the officer in charge, said to contain vital information on voter registration and IEBC, was among those stolen.

Ms Soud pointed out that the offices are guarded by Administration Police officers on a 24-hour basis but were still raided.

“As to where the APs were at that time, I don’t know and don’t ask me because I am not in charge,” said Ms Soud.

She said no classified information was in the computers that were stolen.

“It was not the top secret information that they took away”.

Msambweni District AP Commandant Wilson Gichuhi said his officers only patrolled the area where the IEBC offices are located.

“My officers are not permanently stationed at IEBC offices but carry out patrols throughout the general area. They might have been in another area during the raid,” he said.

Mr Mugwai said it was surprising that the raiders did not steal any money from the two offices but went for computers.

“There was a safe with money at the Yehu Microfinance offices and a very expensive digital camera lying on the table. But the thieves did not touch them but moved out with laptops, some which were not operational”.

MRC has been linked to several attacks in the province this year. Two months ago, suspected MRC attackers disrupted a mock election at St Andrew’s Primary School in Malindi.

During the attack, an AP officer was beaten, injured and robbed of his rifle.

At Chonyi, raiders suspected to be MRC members, attacked IEBC officials as they conducted civic education and burnt their vehicle and voting materials.

In Kaloleni an AP post was raided and officers beaten up and hurt while at Shelly Beach in Likoni an officer was killed and his gun stolen by people suspected to be MRC members.

IEBC has moved its offices from Mombasa town centre to a location protected by the General Service Unit next to the Mombasa State House.

However, Ms Soud said the reason for the move was space and not security, adding that the old office was only 50 metres from the Central Police Station “and quite secure”.

Also, more than 200 APs from Coast Province are said to have been transferred out of the region in a move to improve security ahead of the elections.