NAIROBI, Kenya – Somalia-based militants killed at least 83 Kenyans in 2019, a report published recently has revealed, terming Al-Shabaab as “a threat to stability”.
The data from Human Rights and Policy Studies [Chrips] underscores the growing terror attacks within Kenya, which shares a common border with Somalia.
Even since Kenya deployed KDF troops to Somalia in 2011, the insurgents have executed sporadic attacks within northeastern and coastal regions in Kenya.
In most instances, the militants have been using IEDs to execute their targets, and in rare cases, they have engaged in direct confrontations with security forces.
How 2019 compares with the previous year
Of the 83 deaths, 42 were security forces while 26 were civilians, in the data recorded concurrently with the study, the report said.
This represents a 20 percent increase from 2018, in which only 56 people were killed by the Al-Shabaab militants across the country.
The number of attacks also increased from 23 in 2018 to 34 in 2019, another significant percentage, the report observes.
Dusit D2 Hotel in January 2019 recorded the highest number of civilian casualties, in which 21 people died, the group said.
Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties borne brunt of most attacks, with security forces being the most affected, it added.
Attacks raise concerns in northeastern
Although the government is committed to defeating the militants, the upsurge of attacks in northeastern has raised panic among leaders.
Dr. Mutuma Ruteere, the group’s director notes that the frequent attacks may have forced local leaders to summon a security meeting recently.
“The escalation of the situation has raised concern with leaders from northern Kenya, who recently called a security meeting to address the situation in the region,” he said.
Yusuf Haji, the Garissa Senator, said: “The government should arm our people so that we can deal with these insurgents ruthlessly”.
Already, the mass exodus of non-local teachers has hit the region, following Teachers Service Commission [TSC] decision to transfer them for safety.
What about suspects of the attacks?
Despite deaths being recorded in these attacks, security forces have managed to arrest dozens of suspects, some of who are still maneuvering through the justice system.
According to the data, 135 suspects were arrested last year for various offenses related to terrorism including 44 Kenyans and 12 foreigners.
The foreigners were from Britain (2), Ethiopia (2), and one each from Tanzania, Somalia, Canada, and New Zealand, notes the report.
Four others were from unspecified nationalities. Of these arrests, the highest number was recorded in Nairobi and Garissa counties.
But despite the efforts, Ruteere said, “Al-Shabaab still poses a high-security threat to Kenya’s internal stability.”
The report shows that 74 people were injured of whom 37 were civilians and 37 security officials.
A further 12 people were kidnapped last year, with nine of them being civilians and three security officials, it added.
Crackdown against Al-Shabaab
Already, various measures have been put in place to counter the militants, with the state now targeting their financiers within and outside the country.
Speaking in America on Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “we must now target their source of income and close the channels completely”.
Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the interior minister, last week said three people had been arrested in Dadaab refugee camp for engaging in smuggling of goods.
Kenya has now shifted focus to financiers, with security forces monitoring trade across the Kenya-Somalia porous border, to contain the illicit trade.
In addition, Uhuru added, the KDF troops will continue remaining in Somalia “until relative stability is achieved” no matter the duration.