On the 6th of July 2015, Kenya woke up to breaking news of yet another terror attack in the town of Garissa. At least 14 people were killed and 10 others injured after suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked a village near Mandera Town. Mandera County Commissioner Alex Ole Nkoyo confirmed the attack, which happened at 1.00am in Soko Mbuzi Village. The attack comes after gunmen walked into Yumbis and killed quarry workers. Hence, the terror attack yet again exposes the government soft underbelly.
According to the county commissioner, the attackers struck when the villagers were sleeping. The attackers are said to have planted grenades on the doors, but most of the people were sleeping in tents outside their houses due to the hot weather. The attackers then hurled a petrol bomb at the tents before shooting.
Its been over a year after the Lamu – Mpeketoni attacks that saw people butchered by terrorists and scores of families displaced. The scars are still fresh and they underline the government’s slow response in dealing with matters of terror threats.
The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) report following the Mpeketoni attacks lay the blame on confusion, improper planning and breakdown of the command structure among the security forces. According to the report pursuit of attackers was stopped in order to receive a high power delegation from Nairobi. Had the pursuit of the attackers continued on 16th June 2014, subsequent attacks in Hindi, Pangani, Pando Nguo areas would have been prevented and possibly some of the attackers apprehended.
After the attacks on the Garissa university, it came to light that the Recce Squad did not make it to Garissa until after many hours with unconfirmed reports that the delay was caused by shortage of aircraft. Later it emerged that crafts under the police air wing are sometimes used for personal errands such as picking up relatives from the Coast. Kenya Police Airwing commandant Col (Rtd) Rogers Mbithi was however later exonerated of any wrong-doing.
Leaders in areas badly affected by the insecurity such as Sen. Billow Kerow have been on the front-line in asking for more responsive security in the vulnerable North Eastern but his frustration is now showing. In his latest comments, the Mandera Senator blamed the president for failing to improve security in Kenya.
“We have met the President several times and even gave him a plan on how to handle the situation but he has failed to implement it.”
In the aftermath of the Garissa attack, the government interdicted most of the top police officers after finding that some lapses could have contributed to the attacks. Joseph Nkaiserry the interior Cabinet S ecretary said,
“I am convinced of the need for thorough investigations into the terrorist attack on the Garissa University College to establish possible criminal culpability of individual officers or relevant security committees.”
In the most recent Mandera attack, it seems again that the deaths could have been avoided as residents reported their suspicions to the Mandera police yet no action was taken. Hajji Barre a Mandera resident was quoted saying
“We reported the matter more than once, but the police took our information casually. Had the security officials taken the information seriously, maybe this incident could not have happened.”
The border wall between Kenya and Somalia is a premature plan because we haven’t overcome personnel lapses that result in deaths even with all the lessons from our recent past. Without eliminating the human error factor in the security system, a wall or newest equipment cannot keep us safe.