Eastern Kenya living in fear of Shabaab

2011-10-17 20:00

kalahari.com

Dadaab - Fear of Islamist rebels grips this region close to the Somali border, a fear heightened by the abduction last week of two Spanish aid workers from a refugee camp.

Police officers, some on foot, others in Land Cruisers, the only vehicles that can negotiate these tracks after heavy rain, fan out over all the trails that lead into Somalia as two helicopters hover overhead.

"We're trying to find the two Spanish women who were kidnapped," explained Philip Ndolo, deputy police chief of North East Province.

"We've patrolled in Dadaab, then in Kulan, in Damajaley; we've been to Liboi and to Hattar [on the Somali border], but we haven't found them."

In all of these towns, the police chief, accompanied by some 20 officers, has gathered the residents together to ask for information and have received contradictory answers.

"We ask questions but we've no way of knowing who is telling the truth and who isn't because the Shabaab Islamists have the support of some Somali refugees and also of some Kenyans of Somali origin," said one of his officers who said he has "exchanged fire with Shabaab on several occasions" in the region.

This region of dense thorny scrub is inhabited mainly by Kenyans who are indigenous ethnic Somalis.

They have been joined by several generations of Somalis who, since the opening of the Dadaab refugee camps in 1991, have been fleeing war and famine in their country.

Shabaab everywhere

The vast majority of the inhabitants, their faces emaciated, say they have been forgotten by Nairobi.

"The Shabaab have informers and accomplices everywhere," a local administrator in Liboi told AFP.

The administrator, a traditional Somali wrap around his waist, explained that many residents "live in fear and dread of the Shabaab."

Explaining why he did not want to be named he said he had once been woken up by the Shabaab in the middle of the night.

"They asked me what I had said in a meeting. Since then I've been careful," he said.

But fear of the Shabaab can be felt well beyond the swathe of land the Kenyan police are searching.

It extends as far as the camps in Dadaab some 90km west of the Somali border, where the international aid workers helping the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees lock themselves up once night falls.

"Everyone is scared. No one sets foot outside after dusk," said Mwangi, another police officer.

Shabaab tax

"Even during the daytime those who want to go out have to either get a police escort or pay money to bandits and Shabaab," he said pointing to the remains of a truck burned along with its cargo of sugar a month ago between Dadaab and Liboi because its proprietor refused to pay "the taxes".

Whatever the actual subject of a conversation in this region, the name of the Shabaab comes up constantly - a threat that seems to hang in the air.

In Ifo, one of the camps in the Dadaab complex, Ahmed, a 34-year-old refugee, relates how the "Shabaab" came in broad daylight and snatched the two white women in front of dozens of people and then went away again with total impunity.

"The Shabaab are like devils. We don't know exactly where they are. They're invisible but they're watching us. They're always present and they can strike at any time," he muttered with concern.

22-year-old Abdi Afey boldly identified himself then said: "Someone gets killed here every day. Some people say it is bandits, others say it's Shabaab."

"Everything is going to change now," said a police officer. "Our army has crossed into Somalia and since Friday has been inflicting heavy losses on the Shabaab enemies, notably in Dhobley."

Ahmed seemed unconvinced.

"Even if we chase them from all the towns in Somalia, the Shabaab are already within our midst and there's nothing we can do about it," he said, resigned.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  kenya  |  east africa hunger  |  east africa  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Table View 18:56 PM
Road name: Marine Drive Northbound

DELAYS between the N1 Highway and Table View

Stellenbosch 18:01 PM
Road name: R304 Northbound

DELAYS towards Bottelary Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.