Over the last few weeks we have witnessed a spike in Al Shabaab activity along the Kenya-Somalia border. The now, ragtag militia group has concentrated its attacks around Kenyan border towns in an attempt to get attention as their perceived strongholds are increasingly under siege. The most recent attack was staged last weekend in Yumbis, Fafi subcounty, Garissa. The attackers primarily focused on vandalizing a Safaricom mast in the area to shut down communication in the area.
Despite what seemed to be a well-coordinated attack, Yumbis border patrol and the special forces managed to kill three of the group’s members. Security has been beefed up in the area after the recent activities. The national police, border police, and special forces have been on high alert in the region. Mohamed Birik, the regional police boss, confirmed that there had been increased security presence in the area.
The attack comes just over a week after Al-Shabaab attacked KhororHarar in Wajir claiming the lives of seven police officers. The focus of the militia group seems to be the National Police Reservists personnel stationed in the area. However, the entire resident population in the North Eastern region is tensed as people fear to be casualties of the ill-intentioned attacks. As a result, commercial activities have been on the decline in the area because investors fear losing not only their money but also their lives.
The attacks are primarily carried out by Kenyan cells based operating in the affected towns. Consequently, there has been heightened suspicion over who may or may not be an operative. An incident that vividly demonstrates this state of affairs is the shooting of an unidentified man on Friday in Yumbis town. The man was killed by security agents after he allegedly reached for one of the officer’s weapon. His death has sparked commentary from the civil society of Kenya. The group is urging the security forces to protect everyone indiscriminately in the region. They also point out the need to observe fundamental human rights in the fight against Al Shabaab.
In light of this tension, religious leaders are calling for calm among the various parties involved. They highlight the need for unity among the residents and Kenyans in general, as it is a crucial ingredient in fighting the attacker. Muslim leaders, in particular, have been quoted condemning the heinous acts. They disown the militants pointing out that Islam is a religion of peace and love. The clergy is also calling on the community to engage the youth and account for their activities in the region.