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Lamu and Mandera counties bore the brunt of terror attacks

Layla Ibrahim wept at the burial of her mother, the highest-ranking Kenyan official killed by Al Shabaab militants this year.

Layla Ibrahim wept at the burial of her mother, the highest-ranking Kenyan official killed by Al Shabaab militants this year.

The death of Mariam El Maawy, Principal Secretary for Public Works, was the hallmark of terrorism staged by the Somalia-based militants. She died following a gunshot to the shoulder and burns to her legs.

El Maawy died three months after the July 13 attack in Lamu that started as an abduction before quickly escalating into a fierce battle. Seven other people, including her nephew, also died. At least 16 other attacks directed at Kenyans had been staged by the terror group before the Lamu incident. Lamu and Mandera counties bore the brunt of the attacks from Al Shabaab, Kenya’s biggest security threat. 

Towards the end of January, the militants staged a fierce attack on a Kenyan military camp inside Somalia in a similar fashion as another bigger ambush in early 2016.

Kenya Defence Forces reported that they lost nine soldiers at the Kolbiyow camp in Somalia. Other sources claimed the fatalities could have been higher. In retaliation, KDF soldiers killed 57 militants in Afmadhow, Somalia, a month later. 

Several other terror attacks have been staged, albeit with lower sophistication, within Kenya. In several incidents, the militants have claimed responsibility for attacks on Kenyan security forces through use of Improvised Explosive Devices which are buried in remote roads. On May 16, for instance, four civilians were killed when a vehicle they were travelling in ran over an IED planted by Al Shabaab in Liboi, Garissa County.

National outrage A week later, five police officers that were part of Mandera Governor Ali Roba’s security detail died when their vehicle was hit by an IED in Simo, Arabia. On the same day, three other police officers were killed while two colleagues were injured when their vehicle ran over an IED in Liboi. In the same week, at least four AP officers killed, several injured when their armoured personnel carrier hit an IED in Baure, Lamu County.

The deaths from the simple explosive drew national outrage and informed debate on the quality of the vehicles used by security officers. But as the debate fizzled out, another four civilians died when their bus ran over an explosive in Mandera in June. A dozen other travellers were injured in the explosion.

As an indication that the militants were clear on causing more pain, they beheaded five people in Lamu in July in the signature killing common with ISIS, which the Somalia militants have acknowledged links with. The slaughter followed another attack in Mandera that left five dead. But away from the brutality staged by the foreign threats,

it was in 2017 that evidence of organised crime gang emerged the most. Around Nairobi, a gang of young robbers called Gaza was eliminated over several weeks with information on their dealings being shared by a faceless cop identified as Hessy wa Kayole. The dangerous gang hit the headlines following the killing of “Nairobi’s prettiest robber”, a teenager identified as Clera Njoki. Her husband was also gunned down later.

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