Chief says they received intelligence reports that the militia were planning to strike but did not take them seriously
The chief of the border location of Damajaley in Daadab District in Northeastern Kenya on Saturday described for the first time the grizzly details of the attack in his location where five people were killed.
On May 27, over 50 heavily armed al Shabaab militiamen carried out simultaneous raids at the Damajaley AP Camp and the Abdi Sugow Rural Border Patrol Unit post. They killed three civilians and two policemen and abducted two administration police officers who are still believed to be in their custody.
Speaking at his hospital bed at the Garissa Provincial General Hospital where he is currently admitted, Omar Khalif said the events of that fateful day are still fresh in his mind.
The long serving administrator, who was at first reluctant to open up for fear of being targeted by the al Shabaab or their sympathisers, says the local authorities had received intelligence reports that the militia were planning to strike but did not take the reports with the seriousness it deserved.
“There were rumours that these assailants had been spotted crossing into the country from Somalia using donkey carts, but because of lack substantial evidence, we treated the reports as mere hearsay and life went on as usual until that day when they struck my village,” Omar says.
He says the militia, who came clad in full uniform of the defunct Transitional Federal Government soldiers, surrounded the village while a group went straight to the camps which are 7km apart.
“I was seated in my office which is located right outside the AP camp unwinding after a long day when suddenly the serene atmosphere was cut short by sounds of gunfire,” Omar recalls.
“In the confusion, I immediately stepped out of my office and started running. The militias were determined to kill me and they ran after me shouting at me saying I was an infidel collaborator. One bullet hit my right leg but I soldiered on up to a nearby house where I dragged myself in and took refuge under the bed.”
He says the militiamen, who reigned terror on the residents for over five hours, came looking for him in his house but luckily he was hiding in a friend’s house.
Omar says there was confusion and chaos in the village as residents scampered to save their dear lives.
He condemns the action of al Shabaab to seize, parade and summarily behead a primary school teacher while forcing the villagers to watch the whole ordeal.
“The impact that ungodly action is going to have on our children is monstrous and I only hope and pray it will not negatively impact on their morals when they grow up,” Omar says.
“Since that incident took place, I have had sleepless nights; I can’t get the images out of my head. I feel traumatised and I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking that the assailants are coming for me. I don’t know for how long this will continue,” Omar said.
His fears are enhanced by reports that there is another major impending attack targeting security installations within the county by al Shabaab remnants.
On Mondaylast week, area MP Dr Mohamed Dahiye spoke of an impending attack in Garissa County by people believed to have carried out the Damajaley attacks and who have since then been roaming freely in the area after the government pulled out all its security forces following the attack.
“Just like the other time when the militia issued a warning two weeks before they struck, this time too they have done the same. The government should better treat the threats with the seriousness they deserve otherwise they will be caught flat footed again.”
In a quick rejoinder, Dadaab DC Albert Kimathi refuted claims that the government had pulled security personnel along the border, saying if anything, they had posted more officers to the area.
“Every administration police post along the border has 30 armed officers led by a sergeant at every camp and they are all well equipped with enough vehicles at their disposal,” Kimathi said.
Recently, the government gave out hotline numbers 0788818162 and 0711338826 to be used by residents to tip the security agencies concerning security threats.
Garissa county has borne the brunt of retaliatory attacks by al shabaab since Kenyan troops crossed over into Somalia in late 2011 following a series of attacks and kidnappings in the country.
The violence dates back to October 2011 when Kenya Defense Forces entered Somalia to fight the terrorist group in their territory.
Since then, dozens of people have lost their lives including police officers, military officers, government officials and civilians.
The killing of 10 people at a local hotel prompted the visit by a high powered delegation of top security chiefs led by Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.
They promised to make sure that security is restored in the region. The government further pledged to offer a reward of between Sh50,000 and Sh100,000 to anyone who would provide information that will lead to arrest of criminals behind the killings.
To date, not a single individual has availed information to the security agencies or identified the criminals behind the spate of attacks.
- via the star