By Fauxile Kibet
Security officials from Kenya have called on their Somalia counterparts to share information that could help counter terrorism attacks.
Mandera County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka who headed day-long talks between Kenyan security officials and Somali officials from Bula Hawa said that it was time the two countries shared crucial information and collaborated in counter terrorism efforts.
Olaka said that the porous Kenya-Somalia border posed a threat to Kenya as Al-Shabaab militants easily cross over, but expressed confidence that the security border wall currently being built will offer a lasting solution.
“We will neutralise the Al Shabaab menace with this wall from Mandera to Kiunga in Lamu. So far, only 10km has been built,” said the County Commissioner.
The meeting came as Kenyan police said a vehicle packed with explosives recovered by security officers a month ago in Merti, Isiolo was meant to hit targets within Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Kenyan detectives recovered 5 AK 47 rifles, 36 grenades, 37 magazines, 18 pairs of hand grenades, 7 84-millimeter projectiles, 85 kilograms of TNT and more than a 1,000 rounds of ammunition
“A Mitsubishi SUV was found hidden in a thicket, but when they (detectives) approached it, an individual came out of that vehicle, firing, but was liquidated,” Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told journalists on Wednesday, during a briefing at the CID headquarters in Nairobi.
According to the Kenyan Police chief, the explosives had the capacity to kill people and bring down buildings within a radius of 250 metres.
“They were targeting a government building and judicial building at the time some proceedings were going on, probably, for the purpose of rescuing some of the people we are processing for terror offences,” the Kenyan IG said.
Kenyan police said that they believe that the terrorists wanted to instill fear across the country and obtain worldwide recognition by attracting the attention of the media and embarrass government security forces so that the government overreacts and appears repressive.
The Kenya-Somalia porous border remains a major hindrance to counter terrorism efforts even as the two countries continue to heighten security operations to counter terror.
Al-Shabaab has over the years carried out daring attacks in Kenya killing and injuring several civilians. In 2103, gunmen suspected to be members of the Al-Shabaab terror group attacked a mall in the capital Nairobi killing at least 67 people. In 2015, gunmen attacked the Garissa University leaving 148 people dead.
60 people also died when suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked residents of Mpeketoni area in Lamu in the coastal region.
Kenyan security officers have also been targeted, the worst being an attack at a Kenya Defense Forces camp at El_Adde in 2016, where approximately 100 soldiers were killed.
Kenyan soldiers continue their mission in Somalia as part of the 22,000 strongly African Union mission fighting the militants who despite having been relatively weakened, continue to launch attacks within Somalia.
Last year, close to 500 people were killed in Mogadishu after the militants exploded a truck filled with explosives in Mogadishu.