Kenyan police thwart al-Shabab attack in border region

Kenyan police said Wednesday they foiled al-Shabab’s aim to disrupt communication services and later carry out an attack in the northeast region of Garissa.

Mohamed Birik, northeastern regional commissioner said the militants suspected to have crossed from Somalia only managed to destroy a diesel generator that powers telecommunication mast after they struck at around 1 a.m. in Diiso village.

“I want to confirm that all our officers have been accounted for, not even one of them has also been injured or kidnapped as it is alleged by some quarters and on the social media,” Birik said on phone.

“I want to appeal to people to kindly stop spreading rumors and unverified information because doing so only serves to create unnecessary tension and fear,” he added.

Initial reports had indicated that the 21 police officers attached at the camp were missing and that the mast belonging to the mobile firm, Safaricom, had been completely been destroyed.

Birik said that the militants’ mission was to completely destroy the mast but a quick response by the security officers repulsed them.

A police officer attached to the camp who spoke in confidence said that their quick response saved the situation.

“Their (militants) intention was not only to destroy the mast but to completely overrun the police station and make away with ammunitions like they have done in other areas in their previous attacks. Their timing was also at night thinking we will be deep in sleep but the fact that we are in border town has taught one lesson, that we remain alert at all times,” said a police officer who declined to be identified.

Al-Shabab militants usually destroy telecommunication mast to disrupt police response and communication in the area before they could inflict harm on the locals.

Birik 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 believed to have fled back towards the Kenya-Somali border.

“Our teams are already on the ground. Efforts are being made to pursue the militants. We have also stepped up operation along borders not only in Garissa but across the region,” said Birik.

He allayed fears that the militant could be targeting to attack other areas noting that security officers across the region were on high alert especially as the festive season draws near.

“Kenyans should be rest assured that their security is well taken care off. Our officers are alert and working round the clock to ensure that Kenyans remain safe. Let everybody go about their normal business without fear,” he said.

A number of security personnel have died along the border with Somalia as a result of the attacks some that include improvised explosive devices placed on roadsides by al-Shabab militants.