The governor of Kenya’s Mandera County has called on the national government to replace the local head of police, who he said has failed to stop attacks by the Somali militant group al-Shabab. The call came just days after the governor survived an attack.
A visibly shaken Mandera Governor Ali Roba told journalists Monday his life was in danger and accused security forces stationed in his county of failing to halt terror attacks.
Roba’s convoy was ambushed Friday by al-Shabab militiamen. He survived the attack unharmed but six other people were injured.
The governor said in this case and others, security forces take too long to arrive at the scene of attack. “Police are unable to respond in timely manner, [which is] why we really need to find out why is it that the police or the security forces could not respond to security incidents. We think the shortest time possible is that something that can be sorted through change of head, no or maybe,” he said.
The county government said more than 100 people have been killed in Mandera in the last four months by al-Shabab.
The Somali Islamist group vowed revenge attacks against Kenya after it sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight alongside an African Union force.
The insecurity has crippled education in northeastern Kenya, where hundreds of teachers have refused to go back to their schools after militiamen attacked a bus carrying educators late last year, killing 28 people.
Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said the government is not putting in enough effort to assert its authority like it has in other towns that face danger from al-Shabab.
“We feel the government is treating Mandera as if its not part of Kenya. It’s not being given the same level of attention in terms of addressing the terrorist threats, the same level of attention Nairobi or Lamu or other parts of this country has been given,” Kerrow stated.
Speaking after visiting the injured security officers in Nairobi Monday, Kenya’s newly-appointed Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett assured the people of Mandera of their safety.
“The situation is under control, we are vigilant,” Boinett said. “We would appeal to the residents of that county to continue partnering with us so that we can offer the required police service they deserve.”
In another attack last October, Governor Roba escaped unhurt after an improvised explosive device blew up as his convoy passed through Mandera.