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Terror suspect escapes police dragnet

Police officers at the scene where four people suspected terrorists were gunned down on Mombasa-Malindi highway last Friday. Photo/Laban Walloga
Police officers at the scene where four people suspected terrorists were gunned down on Mombasa-Malindi highway last Friday. Photo/Laban Walloga  



Tuesday, October 08, 2013

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One of the suspected masterminds of the Westgate terror attack narrowly escaped a police dragnet in Nairobi Monday afternoon.

Police say the man is a former senior officer in Somalia and has been training Al-Shabaab militants in the war-torn country.

He has reportedly been living at Nairobi’s Majengo area and travelled to Garissa immediately after the attack but later returned to the city.

“We suspect he just went to deliver something since he only stayed there for a day,” said one of the officers involved in the operation.

Police say the suspect, who travels frequently, is good at covering his trail and has processed several documents to aid his movement between Nairobi and Garissa.

Yesterday, the suspect was trailed to the city centre where he made a call to Mombasa and several others to some people in Somalia, before dumping the phone at a parking lot next to Jeevanjee Garden.

His movements were traced to Jamia mosque, Ngara and along Juja Road where detectives lost track of him.

A joint operation, which included officers from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), the National Intelligence Service, Flying Squad and the Special Crime Prevention Unit, extended late into the night on Monday but the suspect had not been captured by late Monday night.

Operations have also been intensified as it has become clear that at least two of the attackers could have slipped out of the mall in the confusion, and also due to the fact that the people leaving the mall were not thoroughly screened.

ATPU boss Boniface Mwaniki said so far police have arrested around 40 suspects.

On Sunday, police also seized three suspects who had reportedly been hiding in a room at Pangani area.

The three were found in possession of five different passports, a laptop and a car. They are being questioned by ATPU officers.

Detectives are also looking for at least eight suspects believed to have been directly involved in the attack. Four of them were captured on the CCTV footage at the mall.



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