Police move to secure Mandera as Somalia clashes leave 10 injured
No attacks have taken place in Mandera town following clashes in neighbouring Somalia on Monday, the National Police Service has said.
Corporate Communications Director Charles Owino issued a statement following reports of explosions and heavy gunfire as Jubbaland forces and troops of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) clashed.
FGS troops have been camping at Bula Hawa, a town neighbouring Mandera, for the past month, planning a raid to capture a fugitive Jubbaland minister, who has been hiding in the county.
Mr Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur, alias Abdirashid Janan, escaped on January 28 from a Mogadishu prison, where he had been held since August 31, 2019.
He arrived in Mandera town on January 30 and was booked into a local hotel.
The police service assured Kenyans of safety, saying security teams were on high alert and would work to prevent militants in Gedo, where Bula Hawa is located, from crossing into Kenya.
“We have also deployed security officers to ensure peace and tranquillity prevails,” Mr Owino said.
He warned the public against sharing unverified information, noting that this causes panic.
He also asked the public to report suspicious activities to police using toll-free lines 112, 911 and 999.
However, a doctor at Mandera County Referral Hospital reported that 10 people caught in the crossfire had been admitted there.
Dr Abdalla Hassan, the facility’s medical superintendent, said six were civilians.
“The other four are men in uniform. I cannot tell whether they are military or police officers and where they are from,” he said.
Some of the patients said they were hit by stray bullets a distance from the battlefield.
“I was at Mandera Police Station when I was hit, only to realise that it was by a stray bullet,” said a police officer admitted at the facility.
Mr Hassan Alinur, another patient, said he was shot in the abdomen.
“I had gone back home to check on my family after the battle started. I was hit in my home by a stray bullet,” he said.
Dr Hassan said all the patients were out of danger.
“We are hoping that the situation will improve since there is much fear due to stray bullets that also hit staff here,” he said.
Among the victims were a six-year-old child shot in the abdomen and a guard with a gunshot wound in the leg.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers moved three of the uniformed patients to a local military camp.
A uniformed officer said to be from the Jubbaland team died from gunshot injuries while being treated at the hospital.
After the day of battle, Jubbaland forces were seen heading into a local KDF camp.
“Jubbaland forces have withdrawn and are being hosted at the KDF camp. Those with injuries are being treated here too,” said a source within the camp.
It was reported that the FGS forces made a significant move into Kenya, forcing the KDF to advise the Jubbaland forces to pull back.
“We cannot tell the exact number of casualties but a number of civilians and officers have perished,” a source said.