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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Blame games over delayed response to Mandera Al-Shabaab attack

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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On Monday, Al-Shabaab militants laid an ambush between Olla and Sarman villages on Mandera-Rhamu- Banisa road in Mandera North Sub-county, attacking a convoy of two buses and a police vehicle in Mandera County.

More than four people have so far died from the incident even as lack of clear command lines, are jurisdictional differences are now emerging as the main reason why there was delayed response by the security agency to the terrorist attack

Media reports indicate that a coordinated rescue mission was delayed because of blame games and disputes over intelligence sharing by authorities in Banisa and Mandera North sub-counties who were commanding units on the ground.

Mandera North Deputy County Commissioner Denis Kirui blamed his Banisa counterparts for failing to brief his office of the presence of Al-Shabaab militants at the border of the two administrative units.

“The Banisa team knew of the planned attack and withdrew their team, exposing our Rhamu team. We did not receive any information on an impending attack on the buses along the road from our Banisa Sub County counterparts,” Mr Kirui said in an interview with a local media.

 “Our team normally escorts the buses up to Sarman, where the Banisa team takes over, then hands over to the Mandera West team. But the Banisa team did not come to pick the buses on Monday,” Mr Kirui said.

Normally, buses are escorted by armed police officers from Mandera, who hand over to another team when the vehicles cross into another sub county.

It remained unclear why the Banisa officers failed to arrive and escort the two buses, leading to the Mandera North Security team escorting the buses past the meeting point.

However, Banisa Sub County Police Commander Khamasi Shivogo is reported to have denied withholding information and claimed that he shared the security brief with the Rhamu Police Station OCS.

“We always share information and I personally did it. I dispatched three groups of officers to respond to reinforce the Rhamu team since they were already on the road,” quoted Mr Shivogo.

A bus from Nairobi remained in Takaba town due to the tense situation on the road, while the buses from Mandera proceeded with the journey.

Tuesday, Mr Kirui admitted that there was a security scare on the road on Sunday, and one of two buses had to return to Olla centre for safety.

A security operation was carried out on Sunday and by Monday, the road was cleared for use.

“On Sunday there was a scare but our personnel did not come in contact with the militants. We cleared the road and the buses were good to go,” he said.

At least 10 victims of the attack are admitted to Mandera County Referral Hospital, according to the Medical Superintendent Hassan Kala.

“They are three females and seven males. Three were attended to at the theatre and are in stable condition. We have one more patient undergoing an operation in the theatre today,” Mr Kala.

A shared police incident report indicated two police officers and a civilian died at the scene.

The report said all the officers were from Rhamu Police Station in Mandera North, escorting two buses, Moyale Raha and Moyale Liner from Rhamu to Banisa.

Officers killed at the scene were identified as number Benard Kibon and Abdiaziz Mohamed. The injured police officers included Paul Azera, Wood Well Bett, Cosmos Mutiso, Wallace Kibet, Ruwo Chogo, Bethwel Kipyegon and Cosmas Muasya.

The officers lost six firearms at the scene and only three can be accounted for, according to the report filed at Rhamu Police Station.

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