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Kenya: Kwale Police Hunt for Al Shabaab-Trained Gangs

Friday, January 17, 2014

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DETECTIVES in Kwale county are following crucial information that may lead to the arrest of 20 suspected Somali returnees believed to be behind crime in Diani. The crimes ranging from M-Pesa agency, bar and fuel station robberies to attacks on police officers are said to be executed by youths trained in Somali by the al shabaab.

Msambweni subcounty assistant commissioner Justus Maina said police are working day and night to trace the "dangerous" youths trained in Somalia by militants, who are believed to have a hand in the intermittent attacks in the tourist town. He said some of the youths have crossed the border toTanzania after realising that they are being hunted down.

The commissioner said others are hiding in Likoni, Majengo in Mombasa and others have sneaked back to Somalia. "We are doing investigations and we cannot make some things public because our target might know the tricks and traps, and device ways to evade them," he said at Muhaka grounds on Wednesday.

Maina said they also have information on small trainings going on in Diani by some of the Somalia returnees. He said all the culprits will be brought to book soon.Maina said security is not a task of the national government only but for everyone.

Therefore residents should work with the police and provide information that will lead to the arrest of the youths, who are out to damage Kwale's name.

"Even if we bring more than 1,000 police officers in Kwale, if there is no cooperation between leaders and locals nothing will bring security. Weapons cannot bring security. If that was so, Somalia would be secure. There must be cooperation," Maina said.

He said the gangs attacking police and stealing from M Pesa shops have relatives and live in villages that are manned by headmen and other leaders.

"Let us join hands and inform police where these criminals are hiding because if we find them in your place both of you will be in for it," Maina said. He said such criminals, who have declared that Diani will have no peace, should not be given room to loiter. Three people were killed in December last year by a gang which used a motorcycle to escape.

On January 2, a grenade was hurled at Tandoori bar in Diani. Ten people were injured. A week later a Russian F1 grenade was thrown at a police vehicle but did not explode.

It was followed by a fierce shoot out between three police officers and six gun men at Kona ya Musa on Monday night. More shooting was heard on Wednesday night at Darad area in Diani.

Msambweni police boss Jack Ekakoro said police were tracing the criminals when they were forced to shoot at them. "My officers only used three bullets and they were shooting at criminals. We have not yet arrested any suspect in connection with the recent attacks but we are doing investigations," he said on Thursday.

Speaking to the press recently Ekakoro urged locals with information of youths who had gone to Somalia and came back to give the police their names. He said those attacking locals and police are the same youths who had gone to Somalia for militant training.

Kwale county commissioner Evans Achoki recently called on youths who had been in Somalia and those from the Mombasa Republic Council to surrender.

Speaking at Ukunda stage recently Achoki said they will not arrest criminals who will surrender to police, chiefs and any government officials.

"We are giving amnesty to any person who is willing to defect from the al Shabaab group or MRC because we know they are our brothers," he said.

On Thursday Achoki confirmed that they are working on tracing the youths who have been terrorising locals and attacking police in Diani.


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