Kenya’s Mandera County at mercy of militants, says governor

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Residents of Kenya’s Mandera County will take matters into their own hands if the government does not stop attacks by Somalia’s Islamic extremists, the county’s governor said Monday.

One person was killed and three others wounded in Mandera County on Sunday in an attack by gunmen believed to be Somalia’s al-Shabab rebels, who are linked to al-Qaida.

The attack came just two days after Mandera County Governor Ali Roba’s convoy was attacked on Friday killing four people including two police officers. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack.

Roba said Monday the situation in Mandera County is “desperate” and “residents will do what they have to do” if the government does not stop the attacks. Mandera is in northern Kenya and has suffered several attacks by al-Shabab extremists who have crossed the border from Somalia.

“We will not allow the militants to overrun us,” Roba said.

People in Mandera are living in fear of the militants and do not have confidence in the security agencies to protect them, he said.

In October, Roba’s convoy hit a landmine as he was being driven to work, injuring one of his guards.

In November, al-Shabab fighters hijacked a bus near Mandera, singled out non-Muslims and shot dead 28. Twenty-two of those killed were teachers. Ten days later, al-Shabab killed 36 quarry workers who were non-Muslims.

But al-Shabab is not only targeting non-Muslims, said Roba. In May 2014, 12 people were killed, including three police reserves, in a suspected al-Shabab ambush. The majority of those killed in that incident were Muslims, Roba said.

He called for the removal of the county commissioner, an appointee of the national government who is in charge of the country’s security, saying he has failed in his duties.

Al-Shabab, based in Somalia, has vowed to inflict violent attacks on Kenya because it has contributed troops to the African Union force supporting the Western-backed government in Somalia. Kenya has experienced a string of attacks since it sent troops into Somalia in October 2011. Police said last month that 312 people have been killed in extremist attacks since 2012.