“Shoot to kill” orders issued in Kenya as US troops arrived for Al-Shabaab war

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Young people engaging, aiding, or otherwise sympathizing with Al-Shabaab militants in Kenya will be killed on spot by security forces, a top administrator has said, in yet another statement that could elicit sharp debate from politicians and human rights activists.

Traditionally, people accused of engaging in violent extremism within Kenya have often been given access to justice, which includes a fair hearing in corridors of justice, with their fate often depending on the evidence submitted by the prosecution.

But Nicodemus Ndalana, the Regional Coordinator for North Eastern Kenya, has issued orders to eliminate anyone linked to terrorism, arguing that those responsible for such activities are locals who cooperate with outsiders to instigate anarchy in Kenya.

“Those operating in this area are locals. Someone cannot come from Kismayo, hide here and even know the landscape without the knowledge of locals,” Ndalana said, adding that: “There must be youths showing them around.”

The coordinator, who is the senior-most representative of the president in the region, further asked parents to start “making graves” for their stubborn sons, adding that, “As the government, we are not going to have mercy on anybody, including the Al-Shabaab sympathizers. The remedy to tame Al-Shabaab is death by bullet.”

According to him, a number of locals have been “betraying” security forces during operations, including leaking to them sensitive information during operations, leading to the implantation of Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs] along certain routes.

Chefs, those providing Al-Shabaab with shelter, will all be classified as “enemies” of the country and would meet their “imminent” death. His warning comes barely a year after President Uhuru Kenyatta tasked local leadership to “go back and identify terrorists”.

Wajir, Mandera, and Garissa counties along with Lamu which is along the coastal strip have suffered huge losses in the Al-Shabaab war, with the militants targeting security forces and non-locals. In fact, in 2019, there was a mass exodus of non-locals especially teachers and medics from the region.

One of the worst attacks targeting civilians took place in 2015 when the militants attacked Garissa University, killing close to 150 students. There have been attacks targeting security forces and destruction of communication infrastructure over years, with Mandera Governor Ali Roba claiming the militants control 60 percent of the county’s landmass.

The order comes days after the US Africa Command troops started arriving in Wajir where they are expected to provide air surveillance and response whenever needed, a senior security source in the region has told Nation, Africa.

This comes a week after it was reported US President Joe Biden revealed plans to deploy Special Forces to Kenya. It is not, however, clear if the troops in Wajir are linked to the President’s communication.

In a letter to the US Congress early this month, President Biden said he had approved the sending of special operations troops to Kenya to collaborate with the Kenyan military in combating Al-Shabaab.

“We have the Americans and they chose Wajir because of the international airport that can easily help in quick responses. They will survey and respond to incidents in Garissa and Mandera from Wajir,” a source, who spoke in confidence, told the Nation. Africa

“They are not new to this area. They just came in from Somalia and they understand the region well,” our source said. The camp in Wajir is the second in the country after Camp Simba in Manda Bay in Lamu.

Speaking in Mandera during a security meeting on Friday, North Eastern Regional Commissioner Nicodemus Ndalana hinted at the arrival of the special troops.

“We have received specialized security units that will boost our efforts in the fight against the Al-Shabaab in this region,” said Mr. Ndalana. He, however, declined to reveal whether they are American troops. He insisted that the northeastern region has attracted specialized security units due to the increase in terror attacks this year.

“We will not have a problem with security but the challenge will be cooperation and coordination of our local security apparatus and the community. We have to agree to cooperate in this fight against Al-Shabaab,” he said.