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Police arrest 15 suspects in Wajir

21 June 2013, 18:05

Wajir - Kenyan police in northern county of Wajir have arrested 15 suspects and seized a large cache of weapons, grenades and an array of improvised explosive devices in the past two weeks.

Wajir County Commissioner Naftali Mung'athia said the security forces have also managed to thwart a series of planned terror attacks in the county by Somali militant group, Al-Shabaab which is allied to Al Qaida network.

"Obviously, these are Al-Shabab items. This is a very organised team that is ready to cause big problems in this country," Mung'athia told journalists in Wajir on Friday, adding that "they were about to start executing their mission".

Mung'athia said the recovery of the large cache of assault rifles, grenades, rocket propelled grenades, anti-personnel mines and an assorted array of improvised explosive devices have been seized in the past two weeks as the police intensify crackdown on the insurgents.

He said the police have widened the mode of operations for the suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists that have preferred throwing grenades into crowds of revellers and Church goers in various parts of the country.

The said the security men acting on tip-offs from members of the public closed the dragnet around elements of the Al-Shabaab and their sympathizers who have been trying to get a foothold in the county after being wiped out of neighbouring Somalia by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and the neighbouring county of Garissa by an ongoing security operation.

The seizure comes as the country's security forces have been on high alert across the country especially in northern Kenya over an imminent terror bombing attack by members of the Al-Shabaab group from neighbouring Somalia.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle Al-Shabaab rebels in October 2011 after several attacks, including the kidnapping of a French woman and a British tourist – and the killing of her husband – damaged its key tourism industry.

Mung'athia said security personnel had so far been able to recover over 5,000 rounds of ammunition, 50 hand grenades, 100 AK47 rifles, 50 G3 rifles, 300 timer explosives, 200 improvised explosive devices, two anti-tank rockets, three anti-aircraft rockets, 15 rocket propelled grenades and 400 anti-personnel mines among other related paraphernalia.

He lauded the commitment and the efforts of the residents of Wajir led by local peace committees, saying their collaboration was invaluable to the recovery of the weapons.

He called on the residents to continue giving information to the authorities in order to ensure peace and tranquillity reigned in the county.

This latest recovery comes just a day after the police officers manning a checkpoint along the Dadajabula-Dif Road in the County impounded a lorry loaded with over 27 tonnes of assorted bomb making chemicals said to be destined for the Al-Shabab terror group in Somalia.

Northern region has borne brunt of retaliatory attacks by Al- Shabaab since Kenya troops crossed over into Somalia in late 2011 following a series of attacks and kidnappings in the country.

Kenya's government said armed attacks and kidnappings threaten the country's tourism industry -- a key driver of the economy-- that had bounced back after near collapse following postelection violence four years ago in which more than 1,200 people died.

Al-Shabaab militants have vowed to attack Nairobi after the east African nation which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the signing of the federal charter for Somalia in 2005, invaded Somalia to flush out the insurgents it blamed for kidnappings of tourists.

- Xinhua

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