GARISSA (Xinhua) — Kenyan police on Saturday intensified a major manhunt for heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants who killed four police officers and burned down a security camp in northern county of Garissa near border with Somalia.
The suspected to members of the Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabaab raided Galmagala administration police post in Fafi district 10 km from Somali border at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and killed four officers manning the security station at dusk attack that also saw the scores of residents missing.
County Commissioner Rashid Khatour said security officers from the Rapid Deployment Unit and other police units had been deployed in the remote area and were pursuing the over 40 assailants who were said to be fleeing towards the border.
Khator also said the attackers managed to loot the Administration Police Post making away with unknown number of guns and ammunition before razing it to the ground.
“One of the policemen stationed at the post managed to escape while his four colleagues unfortunately lost their lives as they engaged the over thirty attackers,”Khator said.
It has also emerged that the militants were targeting the area Member of Parliament Elisa Bare Shill who is also the former advisor to the Prime Minister of Somalia and who vocally supported Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) incursion into Somalia in late 2011 to uproot the Al-Shabaab.
Speaking in Garissa, the visibly shaken lawmaker recounted how he narrowly escaped the Al-Shabaab attack, saying that they struck barely five minutes after he had left the area.
“I had gone to Galmagala to undertake my normal duties as the MP and meet my people.
“The day had gone well and I had even planned to spend the night but because I finished early, I decided to leave before night fall,” said Shill.
“I believe I was the main target of the attack because of my vocal anti-Al-Shabaab activities.
“I will not be cowed or shaken because I know our troops have driven them out of Jubbaland and this is a way of intimidating our country but we will not be moved. ”
Speaking at his hospital bed at the Garissa General Hospital, one of the survivors of the attack Yakub Ares, a teacher at a local primary school recounted how gunshots broke the evening calm sending residents scampering for safety.
“After scaring residents to take cover, the assailants proceeded to surround the police post where they engaged the policemen in a deadly gunfight lasting for over two hours before eventually their superiority of numbers prevailed and they overran the camp,” said Ares who has taught at the local school for over 20 years recalls.
“They entered the camp, ransacked it and their after burned it down using Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs),” he added.
Locals who spoke to the press blamed the police and the military for not responding to their distress calls despite being only 40 km away in nearby Hulugho town.
The restive town and other towns in the region have been plagued by insecurity since late 2011 when the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) launched cross border incursion into southern Somalia in pursuit of Al-Qaida linked militants.
The violence dates back to October 2011 when Kenya Defense Forces entered Somalia to fight the terrorist group Al-Shabaab in their territory.
Since then dozens of civilians including the police have lost their lives.
Kenyan security personnel patrolling the Somalia border have been hit with a series of explosion attacks since Kenya sent its troops to fight Al-Shabaab inside Somalia, often killing or injuring officers.