Two herders from Wajir County kidnapped by Al-Shabaab terrorists a week ago have been released after five days of negotiations between two clans in Somalia.
Wajir County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara said the two, accompanied by elders, began their journey back to the county on Tuesday. “The two herders have been released after completion of negotiations between elders from the two clans,” he said.
The two were kidnapped last Thursday after they refused to pay “zakat” (a form of Islamic offering) to the terrorist group, sending shockwaves across the county.
The unknown number of terrorists also made away with six camels belonging to the herders as a form of payment for grazing their animals on the Kenyan border before kidnapping them and taking them to Somalia.
The abduction prompted elders from Degodia-Fai to visit the Marehan elders in Somalia to negotiate the release of the two. The elders secured the release of the victims, but were not allowed to take back their camels.
Mr Kibaara said the herders arrived safely in Khorof Kharar on Wednesday. He said the terrorists are believed to have begun their yearly “rent” collection from Elwak in Mandera before proceeding to the border areas in Wajir.
He further said the exercise is usually conducted towards the end of each year between November and December.
However, the commissioner said the government has bolstered security along the border areas of Konton, Riba, Khorof Kharar and Qarsa to prevent such incidents. “We have deployed security personnel in the border areas,” he said.
He called on residents to be on the lookout and always share information with the security agencies in a bid to fight terrorism in the county which has, for many years, been a target of Al-Shabaab terrorists.
Their release comes a week after an armed gang kidnapped an Italian, Ms Silvia Romano Constanca — a volunteer with a charity — on Tuesday in Chakama, 60km from the coastal town of Malindi. The area is popular with Italian tourists and expatriates. The whereabouts of the 23-year-old are yet to be known even as the government intensifies the search for the victim.
Her abductors also wounded five people, including three children, during the incident.
They escaped across the Galana River.