Conflicting accounts swirled around over the number of police officers injured in an ambush set up by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Yumbis, Garissa County.
While the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett issued a final statement saying four officers were injured and that all officers caught up in the ambush were accounted for, the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) rushed to issue condolences to families of bereaved officers allegedly killed in the Monday attack.
The terrorists burnt five Toyota LandCruiser pickups that had ferried 30 police officers sent as reinforcement for their colleagues following an earlier attack.
Earlier on Monday, three police officers were injured after their vehicle ran over a landmine in the area, about 120 km from the border with Somalia. A police officer succumbed to gunshot wounds that he sustained in a battle with Al-Shabaab militants who ambushed a convoy of security forces at Yumbis in Fafi sub-county, Garissa County. Authorities said five other policemen were injured in the attack on Monday evening, some 123km north of Garissa town.
The terrorists also burnt five Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups that had ferried 30 police officers who had been sent as reinforcement following another attack. Earlier in the day, three police officers were injured after their vehicle ran over a landmine about 120km from the Somalia border.
The 30 police officers are suspected to have been ambushed by Al-Shabaab gunmen who terrorised two villages in the area last week. Yesterday, there were conflicting accounts on the casualties from the attack. State House, Interior ministry, police and local administration gave conflicting figures on the number of injured officers. The Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) posted a tweet saying: â€œI mourn and pray with the family and friends of the police officers who lost their lives in Yumbi. They died protecting us. I salute them.â€ blamed media
The tweet was later deleted and the Director of Digital Communications in the Office of the President Dennis Itumbi, who had posted a similar message on his twitter account, apologised for the error and blamed it on media reports. The retraction followed information published in the Interior ministryâ€™s Twitter page saying no deaths of police officers had been confirmed and that only one had been injured.
But Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a statement that five officers were hurt and five vehicles burnt. â€œIn (the) ensuing tactical mission, two police officers were critically injured, three sustained minor injuries while five vehicles were burnt down,â€ said Boinnet.
Police Spokesman Masood Mwinyi said one police officer succumbed to injuries while four were injured in the Monday evening attack. Mwinyi said all police officers who went missing after the ambush had been accounted for.
Garissa County Commissioner James Kianda said the security officers were injured in the gun fight as they rushed to rescue colleagues who had run into a landmine earlier. The officer died while undergoing treatment at Dadaab Hospital. His colleagues were flown to Nairobi for specialised treatment.
Area MCA Mahat Osman said about eight officers were injured in the incident, but 40 safely returned to Yumbis village hours later. Kianda said a team of about 30 police officers in a convoy of four Land Cruiser pickups were attacked by the militia. â€œOur officers were heading to rescue their colleagues who were involved in the landmine incident.
The ill-fated vehicle was thrown out of the main road when it hit the explosive, but upon reaching the area they came under heavy gun fire. They gallantly fought back,â€ he added. Kianda said that as the officers pursued the militiamen towards the porous Kenya/Somalia border on foot, another group of assailants, who were possibly hiding in the thicket, burnt the abandoned vehicles
He said some officers who were thought to be missing later got back to their base in Yumbis safely. Following the incident, top national and county security chiefs were holding a meeting to deliberate on the matter. A team of heavily security personnel led by Garissa County Police Commander Rashid Yakub went to the scene of the gun-fight yesterday morning. Residents of Yumbis have been in shock since Thursday last week when heavily men stormed the village, hoisted the Al-Shabaab flag and lectured them for hours before leaving at their own pleasure the following morning after â€˜preachingâ€™ at the local Mosque. Mohamed Kuno They were reported to have been sent by wanted Al-Shabaab leader Mohamed Kuno.
In their lecture, which extensively quoted Koranic verses, they mentioned several people, among them the local leaders, county officers and Kenya police reservists, whom they accused of being â€œtraitors to the interests of Muslimsâ€. A day later, Kenyan security forces said they thwarted a planned attack by Al-Shabaab gunmen on a village in Fafi Constituency on the Kenya-Somalia border.
In what seems to be a change of tact to counter the local deradicalisation campaign led by Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale, the Somalia-based terror group has been giving lectures, taunting the Government and urging locals to embrace the fight against the Government, which it accuses of spearheading persecution of Muslims in Kenya.
The militia has in the past gave similar lengthy lectures at Japi Bari location in Rhamu, Mandera County and two villages in Hullugho sub-county in Ijara Constituency. A day after the militants raided mosques and lectured worshipers, Kenyan security forces said they thwarted a planned attack by Al-Shabaab on a village in Fafi Constituency on the Kenya-Somalia border. On April 2, suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked Garissa University College killing 148 people, mostly students
CREDIT: The Standard