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Tension still high in Mandera after killing of 28 people

26 November 2014, 08:17

Mandera - Tension remained high in Mandera town and its environs as hundreds of non-local residents who fear for their lives have camped at the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) military camp in the border town.

They have expressed fears of being attacked by Al-Shabaab militants who on Saturday killed 28 non-Muslim commuters in a Nairobi-bound vehicle. There have also been widespread rumors across the border region that the militants were planning fresh attacks in the town.

"I'm afraid the information that these people (militias) are planning to move from door to door in search of Christians with the aim of killing us," a terrified non-local who said that he was a primary school teacher in Mandera town told Xinhua on Tuesday.

He said that the only place they feel safe at the moment was at the military camp.

"I completely want nothing to do with this place. All I am thinking right now is how I will get out of this town for good because I have carried my entire luggage. I don't care my other stuff that I will leave behind, my life is precious," he added.

Humanitarian organization said more than 100 people are camping outside the KDF camp in Mandera town, claiming that their security is not guaranteed. The number is expected to grow as the rumors about non-Muslims being targeted by militants circulate round Mandera County.

Also read: Kaparo condemns KNUT order for teachers to quit Mandera

The terrified people have called on the government to expedite their travel to Nairobi, saying that their plight had been neglected. However, police have been quick to quell down their worries with promises of beefing up security in the troubled town.

County Police Commander Noah Mwivanda and other security officers visited the KDF camp where the group is camping, and urged them to go back home or area near police station, but they declined citing security reasons.

Mwivanda assured them that the government was in charge, but instead the group asked KDF personnel manning the gate to erect tent for them inside the camp.

"We have just heard your grievances and we will immediately deliberate on your concerns as we continue maintaining security. I assure you we are in full control of security," Mwivanda assured them.

A nurse, whose identity cannot be disclosed for her own security, said there was a joke before Saturday massacre by some local friends in Arabia where she works that a big thing would happen to nonlocal residents when schools close.

"At the moment, there is a rumor that non locals' residential houses are being earmarked for persecution purposes, I cannot risk this time round," she said. "It is better I die here at the military camp than in my house. I think these criminals are not sleeping, it is as if they are everywhere."

Those camping at the KDF gate are drawn from Rhamu, Arabia and other hot spot regions. They included people of all walks of life: teachers, medical staff, and members of the business fraternity.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is among six unions who have called on its members to withdraw services from Mandera and its environs until their security is guaranteed as 45 medical workers down tools over security concerns.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion also directed those still in the north despite schools being closed, as well as non natives to "to leave with immediate effect."

The security situation in the north, Sossion said, was no longer tenable as was evidenced by the slaying of 28 people in Mandera on Saturday, a majority of whom are teachers.

According to the unions, there are over 10,000 teachers and 16, 500 civil servants working in Mandera. Six unions told their members to stay away from the areas suffering insecurity until the government guaranteed their safety.

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- Xinhua


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