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Govt won't evacuate staff from Mandera

27 November 2014, 08:13

Nairobi - The government has ruled out evacuation of non-Muslims working in Mandera County following last Saturday's attack on a commuter bus, in which 28 people were massacred.

The Presidential Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Army Commander Jackson Kassaon who visited workers camping at the military camp over fears of further attack, urging them to go back to their work places as the government enhances security patrols in the town and its environs.

"If we evacuate you, then it shall mean we have succumbed to terror. We don't want to give our sovereign country to other people, but we have to sit together and remain united despite being of different religious background," Kinyua told the worried workers late on Tuesday.

Workers in the border town have already spent three nights at the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) airstrip, demanding to be evacuated. They claim they fear for their lives following reports that Al- Shabaab informers had "marked" their houses with the intention of attacking them any time.

"We have been here for the last three days and we are determined to extend our stay. We have our belongings and are ready to spend here as we are sure our adversaries cannot attempt to attack a KDF camp," said one of the affected workers.

The agony follows an ambush by Al-Shabaab militants against a Nairobi-bound bus, in which 28 non-Muslims were killed on Nov. 22.

Reports from the border town said all ground transport and three civilian flights that depart weekly from Mandera are completely booked.

Also read: US condemns barbaric Mandera attacks

Some six unions, including those of teachers and medical workers, were advised to leave the area. Those at the base are in fact mainly teachers, health workers, construction workers and other civil servants.

However, Kinyua said besides improving the key roads in Mandera, the KDF and the police were to provide escort for travelers along the dangerous borderline route. The poor state of the main Mandera- Garissa road has forced motorists to use the road near the Somali border, exposing them to frequent terror attacks in which many have died.

"I understand that the terror was to instill fear in us, but we are telling you to stay put and that we are here to protect all Kenyans in all corners of the country," Kinyua said.

Mandera Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba, who accompanied Kinyua, said he was the most affected person as he had lost personnel he had worked hard to get for the county's schools and hospitals. He called on the workers to "stay and move this county forward".

"If we leave, information will go to the terrorists that they have won against us in this fight against terrorism. Evacuation is a sign of fear and defeat," Roba said.

But representatives of the workers, mainly teachers, health and construction workers, said they wanted to go back to their home counties to mourn their departed colleagues. They accused the government of neglecting their plight, and called for the expedition of their transport to Nairobi, saying their security is not guaranteed.

The workers also claimed they have received threats to leave the area, with some waking up to find their doors scribbled with some Arabic writings, warning them of unspecified consequences.

The Army Commander Jackson Kassaon said more KDF were to be deployed into Mandera and inside Somalia to pursue the militias.

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- Xinhua

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