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Buses plying NEP routes now required to travel with police escort over Shabab scare



Northeastern Regional Commissioner, Mohamed Birik speaking during peace meeting in Wajir East. (Courtesy)

GARISSA—Passenger busses plying routes mapped out as terror zones will not be allowed to travel without police escort.

That declaration was made by the Regional Commissioner, Mohamed Birik on Saturday in Garissa barely a week after 11 passengers were killed by Al Shabab militants aboard Medina Bus enroute to Mandera from Nairobi.

“We don’t want to take chances with the lives of Kenyans. It is unfortunate that this directive has all along been there but bus operators seem to have ignored it. This time round, we won’t allow anyone to get scot-free,” Birik said.

He similarly ordered all security unit to enforce the directive.

Despite several such directives in the past, bus managers have severally complained of harassment, frustration and extortion by the escort who demand that the buses adhere to their commands.

“Bus travels are time-sensitive but the police escorts disregard this factor by setting their own time of departure and sometimes frustrate drivers by accusing them of driving faster,” one manager told Kulan Post in confidence.

The affected routes are the notorious Wajir-Mandera route, Garissa-Holugho, Garissa-Liboi and Garissa-Wajir roads.

Two people were last week arrested in connection with the Friday bus attack where 11 people lost their lives in Al Shabab attack.

Confirming the arrest, Wajir County Commissioner Lyford Kibara said the suspects—bus driver and conductor—are in custody for questioning.

“The two were in constant communication with an unidentified person who made suspicious movements,” Kibara said.

Seven police officers returning from leave were among the eleven people killed on Friday evening by a contingent of Al Shabab militants who waylaid a bus heading to Mandera at Wargadud village in Wajir County.

Kibara stated that the ill-fated bus—Medina Bus—was attacked by at least seven militants who targeted non-local passengers.

“There (Al Shabab) aim is to create hostilities among locals and other Kenyan communities,” Kibara said.

Eleven bodies were last night received at the mortuary in Wajir County Referral Hospital.

The seven police officers who lost their lives in the attack were away on leave and returning to resume duty at their station in Rhamu.

The officers who lost their lives in the attack are:

CPL Athanus Kiti of police number 86572

PC Enos Odhiambo of police number 114365

PC Kevin Mandela of police number 116155

PC Wisely Meli of police number 116135

PC Tikane Kasale of police number 114968

PC Francis Mbuvi of police number 109057

Three civilians among them Rodgers Machuka, a medical practitioner based in Mandera and Leonard Mukanda and one unnamed teacher were also killed in the attack.

Two police officers—Emmanuel Barasa of police number 115425 and Nathan Bett of police number 114571—are believed to be missing, but Commisoner Kibara maintains only one is unaccounted for. 

“We can not say his whereabouts…We have to check the manifest to ascertain if he actually traveled with the fallen officer from Nairobi,” Kibara said.

Speaking after long security meeting with the County Commissioner, Wajir leaders led by the County Governor Mohamed Abdi condemned the attack, calling it cowardly. They also condoled with the bereaved families who lost loved ones in the attack.

“They are not Muslims and their version of Islam misleading. I urge them to come back to the community and integrate,” Eldas MP, Aden Keynan said.

Mandera Governor, similarly condemned the attack. He called on the security apparatus to do more to secure live and property in the region.


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