3 dead in wave of attacks in northern Kenya

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2011 1:35 PM
3 dead in wave of attacks in northern Kenya

A wave of attacks in northern Kenya left three people dead and 26 wounded, provoking a backlash by security forces who beat scores of civilians at the site of one attack in a town on the country's border with Somalia, officials said.

One soldier was killed in an explosion that struck a Kenyan army truck in the border town of Mandera and 11 others were wounded, including a few who were seriously wounded and had to be airlifted to the nearby city of Garissa, defense spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said.

The attack in Mandera is the sixth in a series of roadside bombs and grenade attacks following the entry of Kenyan troops into Somalia last month. Kenya sent the troops into Somalia following a string of kidnappings and attacks on Kenyan soil that it blamed on al-Qaida-linked Somali insurgent group al-Shabab.

The explosion Thursday morning was believed to be caused by a land mine, provincial police chief Leo Nyongesa said. Security officers searched for clues.

In Garissa, two people were killed and 15 wounded in separate grenade attacks on Thursday evening, Nyongesa said. He said the grenade attacks happened simultaneously, one at a popular restaurant and another involving a group of people standing in the street. He didn't provide any further details.

Following the incident in Mandera, more than 300 people living nearby were arrested by Kenya military forces and Somali soldiers who crossed the border, town council chairman Mohamed Adan Khalif said. He said he had been inside the police station and had seen many people who had been severely beaten. A prominent local businessman and the imam of the Mandera Jamia mosque seemed to have broken arms, he said.

"Whenever attacks occurred in our town, our military officers turn against our innocent population living in the town," he said. "We fear if this kind of harassment continues, the (Kenyan army) will lose the hearts and minds of the locals ... Nobody shall expect a co-operation from intimidated people."

Khalif also questioned why Somali soldiers _ who are helping the Kenyan military in their fight against al-Shabab _ were operating in Kenyan territory.

"Whenever there is an explosion in Mandera _ which is a town in Kenya _ they joined the (Kenyan army) in harassing the people. We can understand when our people are beaten by our military officers, but how can our people been assaulted by a foreign force?" Khalif said.

Kenya said the incursion into Somalia was a reaction to the kidnaps, but it has spent years advocating for the establishment of a buffer zone in Somalia along the border and recruiting and training Somali militias.

Kenyan planes bombed two suspected al-Shabab camps on Wednesday, Chirchir said Thursday.


Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, and Boniface Bosire in Garrisa, contributed to this report.