Mandera County Governor Ali Roba on Friday refused to remain silent on the militant group’s activities in his county noting that more than 100 schools in the county have been shut down due to insecurity by the terror group.
“Why do I keep quiet when out of 295 primary schools, 129 are not literally open? How do I keep quiet when no private investment is happening? In Mandera, the only source of employment is the county government because of insecurity. How do I keep quiet when we cannot attract special skilled personnel to come and work for us in the hospitals and other departments from other counties because of insecurity?” he said.
In 2020, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) withdrew teachers from Mandera County citing insecurity threats. On Monday, al-Shabab militants attacked a bus in the county and kidnapped 3 people, according to government security officials.
Roba claims al-Shabab militants have full access to 50 per cent of its county roads, an accusation dismissed by Kenyan security officials.
“I, as the Mandera County governor not any other ordinary person mandate to run the affairs of this county, do categorically and authoritatively state that more than 50 per cent of these counties’ roads are under the control of al-Shabab,” he said.
“Now, you can choose to conveniently say it wasn’t me, it’s not there and that story is not true. There are isolated cases. Ever since I made that report, we’ve had four incidents of terror attacks. We are discussing areas that al-Shabab have never previously accessed.”
Abdullahi Halakhe, a security specialist in the Horn of Africa, says Mandera County has many defence challenges that need to be addressed.
“It’s not just al-Shabab, we have seen few running battles a few months ago but we are speaking of a region that generally has historical insecurity issues, be it clan dynamics or even politics from elsewhere spilling into (Mandera), so I think Mandera then becomes a really important problem that needs to be solved,” he said.
Late in December, collisions between forces of Somalia’s federal government and Somalia’s Jubaland state spilled across the Kenyan border.