Thirty-six quarry workers were Tuesday killed in cold blood after Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked their camp in the Koromey area of Mandera County in the dead of night on Monday.
The massacre, the second in as many weeks, sparked public outrage and prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to reorganise the country’s security machinery when he accepted the retirement of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo.
He also nominated Major-General (Rtd )Joseph Nkaissery — the ODM Member of Parliament for Kajiado Central — for the powerful post of Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and Co-ordination of the National Government.
Mr Nkaissery will replace Mr Joseph ole Lenku, whose tenure as the man in charge of national security has been marked by a weak response to the challenges posed by terrorism.
The public and the Opposition has been demanding the sacking of both Mr Kimaiyo and Mr ole Lenku, accusing them of failing to crack down on crime and of inability to stop terrorists before they strike.
Mr Nkaissery’s appointment awaits vetting by Parliament.
Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta, while announcing the nomination at State House, Nairobi, asked Parliament to prolong its current session so that it can approve legislation to ramp up the war against terrorism.
In Mandera, the Deputy County Commissioner, Mr Elvis Korir, said that the terrorists crossed the Kenya-Somalia border on foot before killing the quarry workers whose camp was about 10 kilometres from Mandera town. All the victims were non-Muslims. Sixteen of them were from the Kieni area in Nyeri County.
MANDERA BUS ATTACK
Last week, terrorists attacked a bus travelling from Mandera to Nairobi, killing 28 people, most of them teachers. Others were doctors, while one was a policeman who was killed together with his pregnant wife.
In both attacks, the victims were made to lie face down on the ground after which they were shot in the head. In the Monday attack, two of the victims were beheaded. Three survived after hiding in a ditch.
All the victims in both attacks were non-Muslims.
Some survivors told the police that Muslims who were at the site of the Monday night attack were spared.
Yesterday, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said the recent wave of attacks targeting northern Kenya and parts of the Coast were aimed at securing a Muslim caliphate in the region.
“A time has come for each and everyone of us to decide and choose. Are you on the side of an open, free, democratic Kenya ,which respects the rule of law, sanctity of life and freedom of worship, or do you stand with repressive, intolerant and murderous extremists?” Mr Kenyatta said in his address.
He also said that security agencies had foiled a potentially devastating attack in Wajir, where suspected terrorists hurled grenades inside a club frequented by civil servants before opening fire on patrons. One person was killed in the attack while several others were injured.
“We shall continue to inflict painful casualties on these terrorists until we secure our country and region. Our stability and prosperity depends on a secure neighbourhood,” he said.
Back in Mandera, a survivor of the Monday attack, Mr Peter Nderitu, said the close to 50 attackers moved from one tent to another as they ordered the occupants out at about 1am. They were then paraded in one queue but were later separated into two.
“The victims were later asked to lie on their bellies before being shot in the head one by one,” said Mr Nderitu, who escaped by hiding in a trench near his tent.
“I came out of my hideout at around 6am when my colleagues were reporting to work,” he said.
Two other survivors of the attack were too shocked to speak.
Police said they were interrogating the three survivors.
“We are interrogating the survivors so that we can be able to get more details about the incident and the perpetrators. We believe they crossed over from Somalia on foot and after the heinous act, they escaped back to their country,” he said.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that some workers could have been kidnapped but police were yet to verify the reports.
The quarry where they worked is owned by a Mandera resident. It is near a forest on the Kenya-Somalia border and was not guarded.
Mr Korir said that after last week’s attacks, security was beefed up around Mandera town and its environs.
“We did boost security around Mandera town. That is why it has been difficult for them to penetrate the town and probably went for a softer target outside the town,” he said.
The Red Cross took the bodies of the victims to the Mandera military camp, from where they were airlifted to Nairobi.