The national government has assured residents and officials participating in this year’s population census in Mandera of their security amid threats from Al Shabaab group.
Speaking to Nation, Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha said all security measures have been put in place to deal with any eventualities arising during the exercise.
Mr Kathya’s assurance comes at a time when several security reports gathered locally have indicated that the Somalia based Al-Shabaab militants have crossed into Kenya in their numbers and are planning to disrupt the exercise.
According to Mr Kyatha special forces have been deployed in high risk areas. These are Arabia, Fino, Lafey, Jabi, Alung’o, Daba-city and Kotulo.
“We have put a lot of efforts in those areas we think are insecure and all is well for the exercise,” he said.
He said his office was aware of threats issued by the Al-Shabaab militants including disrupting the exercise in Mandera.
“We have tried to address all issues that affect this exercise including properly planning for those areas we feel they are insecure in Mandera,” he said.
He said Al-Shabaab has issued threats over certain areas that are now under heavy security surveillance.
“We are prepared for the exercise and I appeal to residents to come out in numbers and cooperate with officers to be counted,” he said.
On Tuesday, the militants sent a warning shot by attacking and completely damaging a telecommunication mast at Jabi area within Lafey Sub County.
According to documented security reports, the militants have planned to plant explosives on major roads in some parts of Mandera and even dare abduct officials carrying out the exercise.
Mr Kathya allayed fears that suspected Al-Shabaab militants will be infiltrating the process masquerading as officials.
“Official coming into your homes are enumerators, a very well-known village elder from that area, police officers, content and ICT supervisors and no one else,” he said.
The county security committee boss said the Al-Shabaab threat was real in Mandera and appealed for cooperation from locals in securing the county.
He warned local leaders against flaunting rules governing the population count.
“We are aware of some politicians enticing locals to move from one unit to another but we are keen on that and action will be taken against such leaders,” he said.
Mr Kyatha called on the local politicians to understand that only those within the county will be counted but not those outside.
“Those herders who have crossed into Somalia and Ethiopia need to be back home to be counted because our official are not allowed to follow them into the grazing fields,” he said.
A section of local leaders have been pushing to have enumerators follow pastoralists into Ethiopia and Somalia to capture them.