Latest news update

Taken: Wajir families cry foul over abducted kin

Last Sunday, while the world was marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, three families in Wajir were still distraught.

Last Sunday, while the world was marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, three families in Wajir were still distraught.

Their kin were forcefully abducted by unknown people last June and they are demanding information on their whereabouts.

The three businessmen — Mr Gedi Abdi, Mr Abdi Muhumed and Mr Jimale Bishar — were abducted over alleged terror links. Their families want the government to come clean on whether they are dead or alive so they can get closure and move on.

Mr Abdi’s home in Khorof Kharar was raided by security officers on the night of June 12. Four days earlier, he had been arrested together with Mr Muhumed and Mr Bishar in Qarsa area and taken to an unknown place.

Mr Abdi was at his shop, together with two other businessmen during their arrest on June 9, around 7pm.

The team would then proceed to Mr Abdi’s home in Khorof Kharar town. It is among the terror hotspots in the northern region due to its proximity to Somalia — the base of Al-Shabaab militants.

 

The residents feel they are being profiled by security agencies despite their willingness to work with them in rooting out terror elements.

At Mr Abdi’s home, the unknown people who claimed to be security personnel held his family at gunpoint and ransacked the house.

According to his wife, Maryam Bishar, the men — who were riding in Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Land Cruisers — took away some documents, including bank details and also made away with three bags of gums and resins.

They also took some Sh20,000 from the house amongst other items before leaving in an operation that is said to have lasted around 45 minutes.

Ms Bishar described the late-night experience as highly ‘terrifying’. “My Children and I were highly terrified by these men, who were armed to the teeth. It was heart-breaking to see some of my children crying out of fear of what was befalling us. I didn’t know what was going to happen to us,” she said.

The residents claim that security agencies have been using excessive force in their fight against terrorism and accused them of completely disregarding the law.

But reached for comment, Wajir County Commander Hillary Toroitich said that he was not aware of such an incident adding that there were no missing persons report that has been made to the local police station.

Questions on the tactics

Local leaders are now concerned for the safety of the three businessmen as they raise questions on the tactics employed in the fight against terrorism.

Mr Hussein Bare, a former senatorial aspirant, told the Nation that the three are still being held incommunicado as their families remain devastated.

They’ve made several attempts to get answers from the authorities but have been denied access to information. None of them has been produced in court since the arrests.

“The concern is if they are still alive. They (authorities) were saying they are in Qarsa, but could be in Nairobi or Mombasa or even dead because no one is willing to comment on the matter,” Mr Bare said.

Area MCA Ahmed Ismail Dugow said the three were being held against the law since they’ve never been charged.

“The authorities are not bothered much about the fact that these people are still missing but told us that it’s all up to the specific agency responsible for the way they handle their cases. The county security team is not there to investigate what is not under their custody,” said Mr Dugow.

Last week, the national government commissioned a new Sub-County Administration Unit in Khorof Kharar, which has experienced several deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab.

The Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group has taken advantage of the porous Kenya-Somalia border to sneak into the area and stage attacks, which have left several people dead and scores injured.

In an interview with the Nation, Wajir County Commissioner Jacob Narengo said the new unit will ensure quick response by security agencies in case of attacks.

“Unlike the past when it could sometimes take hours or days to mobilise security teams from Wajir to Khorof Kharar, this time around the response will be quicker should the need arise,” said Mr Narengo.

Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim said the sub-county administration sub-unit will play a key role in enhancing coordination, management and supervision of the general administrative functions.

The unit will also contribute to increased development in the area, which will empower the community that has suffered years of marginalisation.

“The Sub-County will perform essential administrative functions such as registering voters, supervising elections, keeping records, providing police protection, and administering health and welfare services,” he said.

Back to top button