Five Arrested For Suspected Terrorism In Kenya

 

Kenyan authorities have arrested five people suspected of preparing a terror attack in Nairobi, according to a police report seen by AFP on Sunday.

The group comprises three men — a US citizen, a Somali and their Kenyan driver — and two Somali women who were believed to be on a reconnaissance mission for an attack in the north of the capital, the report dated Saturday said.

Police received information on Friday saying that “suspected terrorists” were carrying out a surveillance operation at a pub on Kiambu Road, a spot popular for its many bars and nightclubs.

READ ALSO: Iran Plane Crash: Ukraine Receives Bodies Of Victims 

Kenyan security forces have been on high alert since the Somali Al-Shabaab group, close to Al-Qaeda, stepped up attacks in the east of the country this month, threatening to target more Kenyan and US interests.

On January 5, the Somali Al-Shabaab group attacked Camp Simba, killing three Americans and destroying several aircraft and warning Kenya to withdraw its forces from Somalia while they still “have the chance”.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting against Al-Shabaab, and has seen several brutal retaliation attacks both on its troops in Somalia and civilians in Kenya.

AFP

Jihadists Kill Three Teachers In Kenya School Attack

Since the start of the year, the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab have stepped up their attacks in eastern Kenya, along the Somali border.

 

Suspected Al-Shabaab Islamists killed three teachers and kidnapped another at a primary school in eastern Kenya on Monday, police said, the latest in a spate of attacks in the region.

The assailants also torched a police post and damaged a telecoms mast in the attack in Kamuthe, 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the town of Garissa.

At around 2am (2300 GMT Sunday) “suspected armed AS Militia attacked Kamuthe primary school, Kamuthe Police Post, a telecommunications mast and murdered 3 teachers”, a police statement said.

“The telecommunications mast is partially damaged but operational.”

A separate police report on the incidents seen by AFP said the three teachers killed were not from the region, and that a local teacher was abducted. The assailants spared a nurse as she was a woman.

“They also set fire” to the police post in Kamuthe, a senior police officer who asked not to be identified told AFP.

Since the start of the year, the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab have stepped up their attacks in eastern Kenya, along the Somali border, and Kenyan police have been on high alert.

On January 5, the Islamists stormed onto a US military base in the coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and killing three Americans.

Two days later they killed four civilians, including a child, during an attack on a telecommunications mast near Garissa.

Al-Shabaab issued a statement last Wednesday warning that Kenya “will never be safe”, threatening tourists and US interests in the country.

The group said Kenya should withdraw its forces from Somalia while they still “have the chance”.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting against Al-Shabaab, and has seen several brutal retaliation attacks both on its troops in Somalia and civilians in Kenya.

This week Kenya marks a year since the January 15 siege of the upscale Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi left 21 dead. Previous attacks have killed 67 at the Westgate shopping centre in 2013 and 148 at Garissa University in 2015.

 

AFP

Four Civilians Killed In Suspected Islamist Attack In Kenya

 

Four civilians including a child were shot dead on Tuesday as suspected Al-Shabaab Islamists attempted to attack a telecommunications mast in eastern Kenya near the Somali border, police said. 

Two of the attackers were also killed by police.

Kenya is on high alert after the Al-Qaeda linked group on Sunday stormed onto a US military base in the coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and killing three American citizens.

Three Kenyans were arrested later Sunday for allegedly trying to force their way into a British military camp in central Kenya, although the British army later said in a statement they did not believe there was a “direct threat”.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said that more than 10 attackers had attempted to destroy the mast on Tuesday morning, two of whom were shot dead.

A separate police statement said the attack took place in the town of Saretho, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the Dadaab Refugee Camp — where Al-Shabaab has been found to be operating in the past.

“The criminal gang had targeted the nearby communication mast and in the process four innocent lives were lost, including that of a teacher and small child,” read the statement.

Police said two AK47 assault rifles, materials to make improvised explosive devices and other “crude weapons” were discovered.

“Security agencies have been mobilised and are pursuing the rest of the attackers.”

The Islamists began targeting Kenya after it sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to join an African Union peacekeeping force seeking to combat the militants who have been trying to topple an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu for over a decade.

Al-Shabaab has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.

The uptick in tensions comes just days before the one-year anniversary of an attack on a Nairobi hotel complex which left 21 people dead.

Somali Jihadists Kill Three Americans In Attack On Kenyan Military Base

 

Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back and four jihadists killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

The American military, however, said three US citizens died in the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said in a statement.

Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally-backed government – which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it was repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

Al-Shabaab ‘Lying’

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

US Military Network

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.

US military Says Three Killed In Kenya Jihadist Attack

 

A jihadist attack on a military base in Kenya killed three people Sunday, including a US service member and two civilian defense contractors, the American military said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said after jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group stormed a base in the Lamu region.

Two other Department of Defense personnel were wounded in the attack on Camp Simba, Africom added in a statement which gave no details on the identity of those killed.

Somali Jihadists Attack Military Base In Kenya

 

 

Jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and military vehicles, according to Kenyan police and army officials.

Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were repelled and four jihadists were killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally-backed government — which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30am but it was repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

Al-Shabaab ‘lying’

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Neither Kenya nor the US have admitted casualties as yet, despite Shabaab claiming to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers.

US military officials confirmed the attack and said US and Kenyan forces had repelled the Al-Shabaab fighters.

“Working alongside our Kenyan partners, the airfield is cleared and still in the process of being fully secured,” said the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in a statement.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a ten hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

US military network

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.

Flashy Nairobi Governor Pleads Not Guilty To Graft Charges

Nairobi’s Governor Mike Sonko sits in a court room during a hearing after he was arrested on corruption-related charges, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, on December 9, 2019. SIMON MAINA / AFP

 

The flashy governor of Nairobi on Monday pleaded not guilty to over 30 charges of money laundering, receiving bribes and conflict of interest in a court appearance held under tight security.

Governor Mike, the latest top official to be hauled in on corruption charges in Kenya, is accused of having benefitted from irregular procurement and payments of $3.5 million (3.1 million euros).

He pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges when he was arraigned before anti-corruption court magistrate Douglas Ogoti, in a packed court secured by anti-riot police.

“You knowingly acquired property and money knowing it was the proceeds of crime,” a state prosecutor read out one of the charges, to which Sonko replied: “Not true.”

State prosecutors also read out details from Sonko’s bank accounts and several dates on which money was wired in from contractors who had won tenders at the county.

Sonko spent the weekend in jail after his dramatic arrest in southern Voi saw him scuffle with police before being bundled in a helicopter and flown to Nairobi.

Born Gidion Mike Mbuvi, the governor formally adopted the nickname “Sonko” which is Swahili slang for a rich and flamboyant person.

It was seen as a maverick move when, in 2017, the ruling party chose him as its candidate for Nairobi’s gubernatorial poll.

He was a controversial politician who has spent time in jail — for failing to respect court dates — and has had to deny allegations of illegal activities, including drug trafficking.

He is beloved by poor Kenyans for running his personally branded fire trucks and ambulances to assist people living in the slums.

He is also known for his style mimicking an American rapper, dripping with expensive gold and diamond jewellery, and on occasion, golden shoes. He recently drew criticism for displaying his opulent dining room on social media.

He also has a fleet of gold-coloured cars.

Kenya has for decades battled the scourge of corruption, and President Uhuru Kenyatta — like many presidents before him — has vowed to combat graft.

Dozens of top executives and government officials have been charged since Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election, including sitting Finance Minister Henry Rotich who was in July charged over an alleged multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

AFP

Eight Killed In Kenya Bus Attack

 

Several police officers were among at least eight people killed in an attack on a bus in northeast Kenya believed to have been staged by the Somali Islamist Shebaab group, a presidential spokesperson said Saturday.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had been briefed on the “brutal” murders of eight people, including police, during the jihadist attack in Wajir county, the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We lost seven police officers in the bus attack,” a senior police source told AFP.

“The total number of the people killed are 10. One was identified as a local doctor,” the source said.

A police statement released Friday evening gave no casualty toll, just noting the bus, which linked the towns of Wajir and Mandera, came under attack about 17:30 local time (1430 GMT).

“Security forces are pursuing the killers,” the state house spokesperson said, adding, “the government will not relent in its ruthless crackdown on criminal elements including suspected terrorists”.

The area where the attack took place borders Somalia, which is regularly the scene of Shebaab raids.

One June 15, at least eight police officers were killed in similar circumstances in Wajir county.

Home-made weapons and bombs have been used to kill dozens of police and soldiers in the northern and eastern border regions, where such attacks are relatively common.

The Al-Qaeda affiliate Shebaab has been fighting for more than a decade to overthrow successive internationally-backed Somali governments and has previously resorted to direct attacks on road vehicles.

A regional peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM, which chased Shebaab out of the Somali capital Mogadishu in 2011, includes troops from a number of African nations including Kenya, making police and troops from the country a target for the jihadists.

AFP

Three Dead In Kenyan Building Collapse

Rescue workers attend to the scene of a six-storey building that collapsed in Nairobi, on December 6, 2019. Simon MAINA / AFP

 

Three people died Friday and many more were feared trapped after a residential building collapsed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, sparking a panicked search for survivors beneath the rubble.

Onlookers swarmed the twisted ruins of the six-floor building, using their bare hands to pull injured people coated in dust from beneath the huge slabs of concrete.

The Kenyan Red Cross said 11 survivors had been recovered from the flattened block in Tassia estate, a densely-populated neighbourhood near the international airport.

At least three people have been confirmed killed, said Nairobi Regional Commissioner Wilson Njenga. He put the number of those rescued at 21.

The search was ongoing, with specialised rescue crews and heavy earth-moving equipment mingling with volunteers and onlookers trawling through the wreckage.

It is not clear how many people were in the building at the time, or how many may still be trapped, but there were 57 units in the structure.

It was just the latest housing collapse in Nairobi, where shoddy construction and flouted regulations have resulted in deadly accidents.

Kenya is undergoing a construction boom, but corruption has allowed contractors to cut corners or bypass regulations.

In September, seven children died and scores were injured when a school collapsed in an accident blamed on third-rate construction.

In April 2016, 49 people were killed when a six-floor building crumbled in the north-east of the capital.

AFP

 

Death Toll From Kenya Flood, Landslide Rises To 52

Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i briefing the media in Nairobi, on a landslide that happened on November 23, 2019, in Nyarkulian village, some 100km northwest of Kitale, in Pokot South sub-county, West Pokot county, following heavy rainfall in most parts of the country, on November 25, 2019. PHOTO: SIMON MAINA / AFP

 

The death toll from floods and landslides in Kenya’s west over the weekend has climbed to 52, an official said Monday, with more heavy rain forecast to lash the region.

Bodies were still being recovered in the Pokot region, 350 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi, after powerful walls of mud and rock swept away homes and buried people in their sleep early Saturday.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said a mother and her three children were among those found by rescuers sifting through the devastation.

“The number of people confirmed dead now is 52”, he told reporters Monday, adding some had been buried and others taken to the mortuary.

Kenya’s interior ministry said Saturday that army and police helicopters have been sent to West Pokot, where the initial death toll was around 30.

Rescue efforts were delayed because roads and bridges had been cut after streams turned into raging torrents, and Lonyangapuo said transport remained a problem.

The Kenya Meteorological Department has warned that more heavy rainfall is expected to lash parts of country until Tuesday, including in West Pokot, and urged people to be on high alert for landslides.

The landslides and floods come amid weeks of destructive rains and flooding across the wider East African region.

In Tanzania, at least 10 people drowned early Saturday when they were swept away by a torrential river in the far west, in the Sengerema district of Mwanza.

Violent downpours have also displaced half a million in Somalia, submerged whole towns in South Sudan and killed dozens in flash floods and landslides in Ethiopia.

Close to a million people in South Sudan alone are affected, with growing fears of disease and starvation.

Floods hit East Africa regularly but scientists say that it has been exacerbated by a powerful climate phenomenon in the Indian Ocean stronger than any seen in years.

The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

The ocean off East Africa is currently far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and consequent rain over the continent.

AFP

Death Toll In Kenya Landslides Rises To 29

 

At least 29 people were killed in Kenya when their homes were swept away in landslides during ferocious overnight rainstorms, the government said Saturday.

Their homes were hit in the early hours of Saturday amid torrential rains in the Pokot region, 350 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

“We are saddened to confirm that 12 people from Tapach and Parua in Pokot South, and 17 from Tamkal in Pokot Central lost their lives,” Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i said in a statement.

“Our profound sympathies go to the families and friends of those who have been affected.”

Army and police helicopters have been sent, Matiang’i said, with rescue efforts delayed because roads have been cut and bridges closed after streams turned into raging torrents.

“Massive landslides reported in various areas of West Pokot County following heavy downpour,” Kenya Red Cross said in a message, adding its emergency response teams had deployed to help.

Devastating Floods

West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello said that two children were pulled out alive from the smashed wreckage of their mud-covered homes.

“They have been rushed to hospital,” he said.

Rescue efforts to dig bodies out of the dirt continued.

“The challenge we are facing is the heavy rains, but we are trying our best,” he added.

It is not only Kenya that is affected. The landslides come amid weeks of destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.

Violent downpours have displaced tens of thousands in Somalia, submerged whole towns in South Sudan and killed dozens in flash floods and landslides in Ethiopia and Tanzania too.

Close to a million people in South Sudan alone are affected with growing fears of disease and starvation.

Floods hit East Africa regularly, but scientists say that it has been exacerbated by a powerful climate phenomenon in the Indian Ocean stronger than any seen in years.

The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

The ocean off East Africa is currently far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation resulting in rain over the continent.

At Least 12 Killed In Kenya Landslide

 

At least 12 people were killed in Kenya when their homes were swept away in a landslide during ferocious rainstorms, local government officials said Saturday.

Their homes were hit overnight Friday amid torrential rains in Kenya’s West Pokot region, 350 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

“Twelve bodies have been recovered, and a search for more is going on,” West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello told journalists on Saturday.

“The challenge we are facing is the heavy rains, but we are trying our best.”

Okello said that two children were pulled out alive from the smashed wreckage of their mud-covered homes.

“They have been rushed to hospital,” he said.

Rescue efforts have been delayed because roads have been cut and bridges closed after streams turned into raging torrents.

“Massive landslides reported in various areas of West Pokot County following heavy downpour,” Kenya Red Cross said in a message, adding that its emergency response teams had deployed to help.

But police officers on the ground said they feared the toll could rise. Rescue efforts to dig bodies out of the dirt continued.

It is not only Kenya that is affected. The landslides come amid weeks of destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.

Violent downpours have displaced tens of thousands in Somalia, submerged whole towns in South Sudan and killed dozens in flash floods and landslides in Ethiopia and Tanzania too.

Close to a million people in South Sudan alone are affected with growing fears of disease and starvation.

Floods hit East Africa regularly, but scientists say that it has been exacerbated by a powerful climate phenomenon in the Indian Ocean stronger than any seen in years.

The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

The ocean off East Africa is currently far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation resutling in rain over the continent.