Eight Kenyans have been kidnapped by the Al-Shabaab militants in the past one month, the government has announced.
Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia said the Kenyans were kidnapped in Alango and Kurokura areas.
The eight, Mr Shisia told the Nation in an exclusive interview in Mandera Town, have since been freed.
“Within a month, we have had eight abductions at Alango and Kurokura areas with the latest being on Sunday night. However, the victims have been released,” Mr Shisia said.
The commissioner attributed the increased Al-Shabaab attacks in Mandera County to the militants fleeing Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) bombardment in Somalia.
He however announced a security plan had been finalized that will help contain the wave of insecurity.
“Due to the sustained bombardment of Al-Shabaab installations in Gedo region by AMISOM the militia are now running towards the Kenyan border. They feel it is safer near the border but we are ready to eliminate them,” Mr Shisia said.
He said the militants have been moving in small groups to avert identification by aerial surveillance from Kenyan forces.
Mr Shisia noted that the small groups denies the security an opportunity to launch aerial attacks as they avoid civilian casualties.
“The Al-Shabaab want to infiltrate the community by intimidating them to submission and portraying the government as being incapable of safeguarding its citizens,” he said.
He says the militants’ attempt to use religious approach to get locals support failed after Islamic scholars and faithful in Mandera interpreted the concept of Islam rightly.
He added: “They have a very strong network that has infiltrated all urban centers in Mandera. Any movement and arrangements by security agents are communicated to Al-Shabaab immediately.”
He cited last weekend’s attack of a private vehicle on the Mandera-Lafey road saying police reservists and locals who rescued the injured were stopped by militants in another ambush on the same road.
“The militants pulled everyone down and told them they were looking for non-locals,” he said.
The commissioner said the second ambush was purely targeting security officers who could have responded to the attack.
“The militants are keen on finding loopholes but we are closing them by working closely with the locals. We are receiving much needed cooperation from locals to secure Mandera for development,” said Mr Shisia.
He said other than Al-Shabaab, there could be a local hand in the buses' attack that left six dead after police findings indicated a relationship between the locals and militants.
On the paralyzed public transport sector, the administrator said the government is still addressing issues raised by bus companies before resuming their activities.
“We want to have a good plan that we can easily manage security in that area and so far we have established a GSU camp at Borehole 11 area to respond to frequent insecurity in Kotulo,” said Mr Shisia.
Mandera Bus Owners Association chairman Mohamed Barda maintained that their buses will only resume services once security improves within Elwak saying they do not want to risk the lives of more Kenyans.
All buses plying the Mandera-Nairobi route have remained parked on main streets of Mandera town for the second week as the county commissioner assured the Mandera community that the security situation was being addressed adding that “very soon the public transport will resume.”
“For non-local teachers within Mandera and others who wish to travel in August, we assure them that all be well and they will enjoy the services,” said Mr Shisia.