Thursday January 9, 2020
Detectives in Garissa are hunting down terror suspect Maulid Bilal over a spate of fatal attacks in the region.
Bilal, a Kenyan from Ogaden clan in Northeastern, is said to lead militants in attacks targeting security officers. A police officer in the region says the suspect has been on their radar for some time now.
Intelligence reports say he has been orchestrating attacks in Fafi and Hulugho areas, whose terrains he has mastered. Sources say he was a Madrassa teacher in local townships before joining a terror group.
“Local communities here know most of these attackers but they can't help us with information because suspects are part of the community,’ the officer said on condition of anonymity.
While ditching the cleric job, Bilal recruited some of his students into the groups. Reports indicate that he is well-versed in the physical and demographic nature of the region, hence provides key assets in planning for attacks.
"Almost every time there is an attack here, the local communities know attackers. It becomes difficult to win a crackdown on terrorism," the officer said.
Bilal is accused of leading the Tuesday attack that left three pupils and their teacher dead in Seretho, Dadaab, Garissa. The militants attacked a telecommunication mast belonging to Safaricom and shot at officers at the Seretho Police Post.
Dadaab deputy county commissioner said the attackers escaped into Somalia.
In a statement, police spokesman Charles Owino said two militants were killed in the gunfire.
“Police officers on patrol thwarted al Shabaab attack and managed to neutralise two of the attackers and recovered two AK-47 assault rifles, Improvised Explosive Device-making materials and other crude weapons,” he said.
The police are pursuing another al Shabaab commander said to be hiding in Dadaab. Militias have in the past targetted schools, police camps and public service buses.
The attack comes barely a day after a daring move in which militants stormed KDF Naval Base in Manda, Lamu county. The base is used by Kenya and US soldiers. A US soldier and two staff members died. Also killed were five Shabaab militants.