Two news reports out today, Dec. 20th, point up new worries for Kenya and Tanzania over increased activities of al-Qaeda backed al-Shabaab terrorists in their countries.
The Standard, one of Kenya’s leading English dailies reported on al-Shabaab attacks in northern Kenya. Today, a grenade exploded close to a military training center in Ifo Dadaab. Yesterday evening, gunmen walked into a barbershop in Garissa town and shot two barbers to death, at point blank rang. No money or equipment were stolen leading police to surmise the incident as the work of al-Shabaab terrorists attempting to heighten fear in the local community which is more than a hundred miles from the Somali boarder along a well travel artery between the two countries. The attack happened five days after two different grenade explosions in restaurants in Garissa, leaving four dead.
Today’s Garissa attack occurred only a few hours after a Kenyan police officer was killed and others injured by an explosion detonated by al-Shabaab followers at the Hagadera refugee camp, in North Eastern Kenya. The camp is meant to be a safe haven for more than 400,000 refugees who fled terrorists and famine in Somalia. More than 200 increasingly nervous police officers guard the camp. At least ten policemen have be killed in al-Shabaab attacks since October.
The East African Business Week today ran a story “Namanga at Risk from Al-Shabaab”. The reporter David Muwanga reveals the growing concern by Tanzanian immigration officials and security forces that al-Shabaab members and sympathizers are entering the country at or near Namanga which is the primary boarder crossing between Nairobi, Kenya and Arusha, Tanzania.
Muwanga quotes Tanzania’s Head of Immigration Department at Namanga, Mr Albert Kishe as saying that, “It has proven difficult to man and patrol the entire 200-kilometre long borderline which is almost entirely bushy with hundreds of illegal routes (Panya routes).”
More than 200 illegal Somali immigrants have been arrested at Namanga and nearby Longido boarder crossing during the past twelve months. The upsurge in illegal, suspected al-Shabaab sympathizers crossing the boarder has forced Kishe to form a task force of immigration and police officers from Tanzania and Kenya to seek out means of thwarting the terrorists. There have been media reports that Maasai tribesmen, who freely transverse the boarders tending their cattle, have been ferrying and hiding Somali’s for a fee of up to $70 US per head.
Al-Shabaab is far from being controled, let alone defeated. Tanzania and Kenya can expect to face even more dangers unless their is a dramatic change in the terrorist groups ability to strike, seemingly, at will.