The entrance to Garissa Police Headquarters is pictured in Garissa, Kenya. The country’s northeast has seen a spate of violent attacks linked to al-Shabaab militants operating from nearby Somalia. AFP PHOTO/Will Boase (Photo credit should read Will Boase/AFP/Getty Images)Kenyan police said Thursday they are on high alert after repulsing three al-Shabaab attacks in the country’s regions bordering Somalia within a week.
Rono Bunei, northeastern regional police commander, said security has been enhanced along the Kenya-Somalia border after security officers foiled attacks by the extremist group in Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties this week.
In the latest incident, Bunei said the extremists attacked and destroyed a communication mast in Korakora area, in Garissa County on Thursday morning.
He said about 20 gunmen staged the dawn attack on the mast before they were repulsed by police manning the site. No injury was reported in the Thursday morning incident.
“We have enhanced security operations in the area to address the menace,” Bunei said on the phone.
Al-Shabaab militants usually destroy telecommunication masts to disrupt police response and communication in the area before they could inflict harm on the locals.
The regional police commander said that a team of security officers were already in the area to assess the situation, noting that an operation involving a contingent of security officers was already pursuing the militants.
The militants have been targeting communication masts, schools and residential houses rented by communities that are not native to the volatile northeastern Kenyan counties of Garissa, Mandera and Wajir.
Police are posted in almost all the more than 200 communication masts belonging to mobile phone companies to protect them from such attacks.
Thursday’s incident came even after security agencies were warned of a possible attack on vital installations on the main Kenya-Somalia border.
The locals had sighted a large concentration of heavily armed al-Shabaab militants camping in an area along the Kenya-Somalia border on Tuesday.
“We are making efforts to address the menace. We have deployed more personnel as part of the efforts. No injury was reported in Mbalambala incident,” Bunei said.
The latest incident came two days after the security agencies foiled a hijacking and kidnapping terror attack outside Dabacity area of Elwak in Wajir border with Somalia.
The police said al-Shabaab militants had hijacked a civilian driven pickup vehicle with seven occupants but were intercepted as they drove towards Somalia.
There were no casualties and the vehicle with the occupants was secured in the Tuesday incident, said a security officer aware of the drama.
“Al-Shabaab militants on Tuesday abducted seven occupants in a land cruiser belonging to a local at 10 a.m. in Kobo area of Mandera County. However, while driving to Somalia, 22km South of Elwak, a multi-agency team led by Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) caught up with the terrorists. The KDF officers rescued all the seven occupants unharmed and recovered the land cruiser,” a police report said.
There has been a lull of attacks in the region over COVID-19 pandemic but such attacks have resumed with the militants targeting security agencies.
On July 4, security forces foiled an attack by suspected al-Shabaab militants on a police camp in Garissa near the border with Somalia.
An unknown number of militants launched an abortive attack on a paramilitary police camp in the Fafi area before escaping towards the Kenya-Somalia border.
Garissa county and other areas near the Kenyan-Somalia border have been riddled with runaway insecurity, with several attacks that have claimed lives.
Several security officers and scores of civilians have been killed, many maimed and property worth millions were destroyed in northeast region since the Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia in 2011 in bid to forestall dangers facing from threats of al-Qaida linked Somali Islamist group.
But Kenya says the deployment of her troops in the southern regions of Somalia has so far helped to prevent the movement of explosives, counterfeit electronics and contraband sugar smuggling across the border.