Tag Archives: Somalia

Mass Grave Found in Mandera, Kenya


The shallow graves of at least twelve ethnic Somalis were said to have been discovered on the outskirts of Mandera, a town near Kenya-Somalia border.

One of the deceased has been identified by  residents as “Isnina”, a mother of five, who went missing just four days ago.

Witnesses say two Kenya Defense Forces soldiers in separate Toyota Probox vehicles arrested Isnina after abducting her from her small hotel opposite Furqan mosque in Mandera.

The individuals are thought to have been killed by Kenya’s security forces following a string of deadly attacks against non-Muslims by Islamic militant group al-Shabaab.

According to a situation report given to me, the Manda Area Councilor had been organizing a demonstration to protest disappearance of a woman -one among many disappearances that residents believe are being carried out by security forces.

Last year al-Shabaab massacred dozens in separate  bus and quarry attacks in Mandera county.

The bodies of 11 ethnic Somalis were discovered in Wajir last May, a town not far from where the Somali militants group  killed at least 150 people at a university in Garissa county.

Further documentation of against ethnic Somalis by security forces was published by Kenya National Human Rights Commision in a report called “The Error of Fighting Terror with Terror”.

The spokesman for the Kenya Defense Forces deny involvement with these disappearances.

The Kenya government has in the past said the deaths of ethnic Somalis were due to clan conflict.

A Security news source claims the bodies discovered in the mass graves belong to police informants and defectors whose murders al-Shabaab leaders had ordered.


Not everyone agrees.

@OnyangoMoses2 These killings are not clan conflicts but suspected extra judicial killings by our security forces engaged in war on terror.

The Kenya government want to justify their stay in Somalia by killing innocent women in Mandera #StopKillingSomalis @insecurityke @hrw

Isnina’s remains were schedule to be exhumed today.

There are no further reports indicating that more bodies were found in the same “mass” grave.

Al-Shabaab commander Abdurahman Mohamed Kuno Gamadheere aka Dulyadeen

Enemy in the Forest – Kenya’s “Operation Linda Boni”

LAMU, Kenya – Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, released a statement on its media website claiming recent attacks in parts of northeastern Kenya.

At around 6 am on Wednesday, November 25th, Special Forces and Ranger Strike Force battalions were patrolling near the town of Galmagala, the outermost perimeters of the deployment area, when they encountered 15-20 al-Shabaab fighters in jungle camouflage uniforms and armed with PMK and AK-47 assault rifles.

An exchange of gun fire ensued. A high-ranking Kenya Defense Forces officer is said to have been shot and seriously wounded.

The attack took place in Garissa county, near the Somali-Kenya border, where in April al-Shabaab killed at least 148 people at Garissa University.

Northeast Province (aka Northern Frontier District) includes Mandera and Garissa counties, which run the length of the Kenya-Somalia border. The region is inhabited mainly by ethnic Somalis and disputed since Kenya’s independence in 1963.

The conflict continues. The Al-Shabaab statement said its fighters had launched “military operations in occupied Northeast Province of Kenya”.

Attacks in Kenya’s northeast began in 2014 when the group killed dozens in towns in Lamu county. The brutal attacks against non-Muslims continued in Mandera county. In December 2014, the group killed more than 48 – many teachers and quarry workers – in two separate incidents near the border town of Mandera.

The assaults in Lamu county are thought to have been staged in the dense and sprawling Boni Forest, also in Kenya’s northeast region.

On September 11, 2015 Kenya’s security chiefs launched Operation Linda Boni (“Protect the Boni”) ostensibly intended to flush out the militants from the forest.

One month later Kenya authorities told reporters that most of the 300-strong militants who infiltrated the forest had abandoned their camps and retreated to Somalia.

However, at a recent high-level meeting (attended by representatives with USAID) held near Lamu, security forces said they had mapped out 13 areas they identified as “hotbeds of jihadism” linked to multiple terror attacks in Tana River, Garissa and Lamu counties in the last two years.

Operation Linda Boni is in its third month of a three month deployment. To prevent al-Shabaab from returning, security agents announced they’d set up nine additional camps in the forest, as well as permanent housing for its officers. They add they will problem extend the deployment two years.

Occupational Hazards – Kenya and Somalia, Post-Garissa Attack 


Occupational Hazards – thoughts on Kenya and Somalia, Post-Garissa Attack


Demands for the removal of Kenyan troops from Somalia are usually heard from Al-Shabaab, most vociferously in the wake of attacks carried out in retaliation for the ongoing occupation, and targeting Kenyan civilians.

Now the Somali government is reportedly calling for the withdrawal of Kenya Defence Forces by 2017. This demand cites an agreement under the African Union Mission in Somalia treaty.

The two-year time frame seems forgiving and realistic, compared to Al Shabaab’s methods, and even relative to the three months Kenya is reportedly giving the United Nations to move the Dadaab camp—and its more than 350,000 refugees—across the border into Somalia. In the past Kenyan authorities have accused Islamist Somali militants of using the Dadaab refugee camp as a hideout and staging ground.

Dadaab sits barely 60 miles (104 km) from Garissa, the town in northeastern Kenya where on April 2 an attack at a university left at least 147 dead. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Garissa massacre.

While representatives with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) say they haven’t yet received official word from Nairobi on closing of camps or relocation of refugees, they say they have signed a tripartite agreement with the governments of Kenya and Somalia, emphasizing the importance of voluntarily repatriation.

In the early ‘90s, Somalis fleeing Siad Barre’s brutal regime wound up in Eastleigh, a suburb in the heart of what is now Nairobi’s central business district. With the swelling refugee population, Eastleigh has since flourished, growing into a city in its own right—nicknamed “Little Mogadishu.” During Kenya’s military occupation of Somalia, beginning in 2011, Eastleigh has become the target of grenade attacks and mass arrests of women, children and the elderly.

Perhaps the Kenyan government is concerned that that if refugees are not evicted Dadaab and its environs it may become the next Eastleigh. 


Al-Shabab’s Anti-Christian Slaughter – Why Kenya’s Punitive Counter-Terror Measures aren’t Working – The Daily Beast



Killing Spree


NAIROBI – The Somali group’s killing of 36 non-Muslim quarry workers is just the latest retaliation, it says, for Kenya’s repression of Muslims. Why Nairobi’s punitive measures aren’t working.
NAIROBI, Kenya—Just after midnight on Dec. 2, about 20 gunmen from the Somali militant group Al-Shabab rousted awake miners sleeping in a tented camp at a quarry near the border town of Mandera. According to witnesses, the attackers separated the Muslims from the non-Muslims. Those unable to recite a passage from the Quran were made to lie face down and then shot at close range, and at least two were reportedly beheaded.The quarry raid came 10 days after Al-Shabab attackers killed 48 passengers on a bus in the same town, and a day after gunmen opened fire and hurled grenades into a bar frequented by non-Muslims in a neighboring district, killing one and injuring 12. AnAl-Shababspokesman said the latest attack was a response to “Kenya’s occupation of Muslim lands… airstrikes on Muslims in Somalia… continued suffering of Muslims in Mombasa.”While the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) have mounted successful offenses against Al-Shabab since Kenya’s 2011 invasion of Somalia, weakening the group’s leadership, militants have passed unimpeded through porous borders, often recruiting fighters within Kenya. (Ethnic Somalis, who fled to Kenya from Somalia’s civil war, make up about 8 percent of Kenya’s population of 40 million.) At first fighterswere taken to Somalia; nowAl-Shabab has brought the war to Kenyan territory.That war seized the world’s attention when the group went on killing spree at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in 2013, leaving at least 68 dead in apparent retaliation for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia. Kenya’s government has been widely criticized for its weak security apparatus and failure to act on security warnings preceding the Westgate attack. Rather than trying to figure out how to prevent future terrorist attacks through beefing up security at the borders and strengthening the judicial system, the country’s armed forces and police have relied chiefly on measures that seem strictly punitive.Poor intelligence and evidence gathering, and a weak judicial process, have resulted in reliance on dirty-war tactics such as mass arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, rape, and extrajudicial killings. Muslim leadership has been particularly targeted; in the last 19 months, at least 15 imams have either been forcefully disappeared or assassinated.In response to the Westgate attack, security forces subjected mosque worshippers to arbitrary arrests, storming Mombasa’s Musa mosque and arresting more than 100 youths. In May, Kenyan authorities launched Operation Usalama, rounding up thousands of ethnic Somalis, mainly women and children, and detaining them in a stadium for days without adequate food and water or legal representation.

“To say you’ll find terrorists in a mosque is just ridiculous,” says Al Amin Kimathi, a human-rights monitor and activist specializing in counterterrorism who was himself subject to rendition to Uganda in 2010. “Real terrorists—trained operatives who plan attacks like Westgate—are on standby and stay away from mosques because they’re too high on the radar. These youths, the mosque worshippers, are just easy targets for the police.”

“This is a war against Kenya and Kenyans. The time has come for each and every one of us to decide and choose—are you on the side of an open, free, democratic Kenya… or do you stand with repressive, intolerant extremists?”

After Al-Shabab slaughtered up to 100 non-Muslims in June in Mpekatoni, a town in northeast Kenya populated by the ruling Kikuyu tribe, Kenya’s national police chief, Gen. David Kimaiyo, responded harshly. There as well, Al-Shabab said it launched the attack in retaliation not only for the assassination of Muslim clerics but for Kikuyus’ settling on land Al-Shabab claims was settled by Arab Swahilis centuries ago. Kimaiyo answered by jailing the Muslim governor of Lamu County and slapping an open-ended curfew on the county, including islands off the coast whose economies rely heavily on tourism.

Adding insult to injury, police last week raided and closed down four mosques they said were linked to violent jihad and arrested more than 376 worshippers. Mombasa County police commander Robert Kitur told reporters that the authorities had seized gasoline bombs, detonators, grenades, and radical jihad literature in the mosques. Human-rights groups, however, said most of those arrested were released for lack of evidence.

Raids, police say, are a part of Kenya’s ongoing security sweep, ostensibly to prevent political violence, root out radicals, and tame would-be terrorists. But residents and rights groups wonder whether the measures are more punitive than protective and have singled out the police’s Anti-Terror Unit (ATPU) for carrying out summary executions.

“Parts of the Kenyan public may think that police should deal with terror suspects in any way necessary, but police extrajudicial killings, torture, and brutality are never justified. These abuses are not only illegal and can target innocent people, they anger and radicalize communities, undermine the rule of law, and weaken serious efforts to deal with insecurity,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division told The Daily Beast.

Muslim leaders have accused the ruling elite of carrying out what they see as religious persecution.

Interior Minister Joseph ole Lenku decried such accusations, tweeting: “The Mombasa operation is not targeted at any religion, tribe or gender and will continue until security objectives are achieved.”

Such explanations notwithstanding, it is not clear what the government’s security objectives are.

So far government officials have refused to come to the table to discuss grievances with Muslim communities, either in Nairobi or on the coast. Suspicions and tensions are running high. Hardline clerics and youths suspect moderates of collaborating with the security forces.

Hussein Khalid, director of the Mombasa-based rights group Haki Africa, told The Daily Beast that last spring he had been making progress dealing with inter-religious fighting by getting a vocal hardline cleric, Abubakar Shariff Athmed aka Makaburi, to meet with moderate leaders.

Haki Africa’s master plan has been to reach out to Kenyan government leaders at the national level. In April, representatives of the group were in the United States to present reported abuses to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of African Affairs, when Makaburi was gunned down after leaving a mosque in Mombasa.

“The murder of modern religious leaders was unheard of before Makaburi,” Khalid told The Daily Beast. “Since his assassination we don’t know where to start. We don’t know where the youths are or if their networks have been dismantled.”

“We just want peace,” he added. “The two words ‘let’s talk’ can move mountains.”

The two new assaults in Mandera, a predominately Somali-Kenyan town in northeastern Kenya, brings the number of unarmed civilians slain in terror-related incidents since early 2013 to at least 200.

In the wake of the latest attacks, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta fired ole Lenku, the interior minister, and accepted the resignation of Kimaiyo, the national police chief. Kenya’s national intelligence chief stepped down after the Mpekatoni attacks.

Kenyatta made a Bush-like vow to continue the war on Al-Shabab, saying, “We will not flinch.” He added: “This is a war against Kenya and Kenyans. The time has come for each and every one of us to decide and choose—are you on the side of an open, free, democratic Kenya… or do you stand with repressive, intolerant extremists?”

In a press release, Al-Shabab’s spokesman said that “Kenya must change policy of animosity towards Muslims… withdraw from Muslim lands.”

Beleaguered Kenyans talking about the war between Al-Shabab and the Kenyan security forces, meanwhile, can often be heard reciting a Swahili saying: “Wale ndovu wawili wakipigana nyasi ndio huumia.” When the bull elephants fight, it’s usually the grass underneath that gets crushed.

Death of a Mombasa Tycoon

Kenya’s death squads are back in action in the coastal holiday-destination city of Mombasa.
At 8:15 on Friday night the owner of the Modern Coach bus company was shot dead by ‘unknown assailants’ close to the Changamwe police station.
Shahid Bhutt, in his late fifties, had just picked up his son at Moi international airport and were on their way home when two private vehicles blocked the way. One car rear-ended Bhutt’s car while the other pulled in front.
Six to seven hooded gunmen reportedly got out their vehicles and approached  his car on foot, spraying the occupants with bullets at close range. Bhutt was killed instantly. His son is said to have been shot in the arm, but is reportedly in stable condition.
A member of Mombasa Muslim community, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me that Bhutt had a “long running row with the imams” at the controversial Sakina mosque. One imam in particular, Sheikh Mohamed Idris, had the backing of Kenya authorities when he identified Bhutt as one of the largest donors to the mosque.
So-called “controversial” mosques in the run-down suburb of Majengo are reputed hot-beds of radicalism and recruitment feeders for the Somali militant group, al-Shabaab.
Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported that Idris’s opposition wanted to change the mosque’s name from Sakina Jamia to Masjid Mujahedeen, “mosque of Islamist fighters”. According to the same source Bhutt had hired “thugs” (apparently not part of al-Shabaab) to evict Idris from the mosque. Mohamed Idris, considered a moderate, was assassinated on June 10th, his assassins alleged to be al-Shabaab sympathizers.
Shabaab sympathizers also suspected to have gunned down, Athmed Bakshwein, a 61-year old police reservist in broad daylight as he parked his car in front of a hardware store in his hometown of Malindi. Bakshwein was said to have played an important role in other terrorist cases. Flyers in Mombasa displaying Bakshwein’s bullet-ridden corpse called Bakshwein a traitor to Islam.
A month later, prominent preacher and self-confessed al-Shabaab recruiter, Abubakar Makaburi said to me in an interview that “all moderate imams are potential little Bakshweins”.
“Sheikh Idris was at the forefront in the fight against the radicalization of the youth, and therefore his death is a big blow to the country’s efforts to stop religious extremism,” Mombasa County Police Commissioner, Robert Kitur, said in a statement.
A local reporter in Mombasa told me he’d arrived at the murder scene and counted 32 bullet holes in Bhutt’s vehicle. Weapons were likely AK47s used to shoot Bhutt at close range, the reporter added.
The modus operandi seem to bear the hallmarks of an assassination carried out by Kenya’s Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) sharpshooters.
Sheikh Aboud Rogo and Abubakar “Makaburi” were both killed in separate drive-by shootings on the Mombasa highway.
Robbers and thugs often use motorcycles. In almost every cleric killing (there have been almost two dozen within the last two years) the assassins are driving Toyota Probox vans.
Bhutt had been in court on terror-related charges but recently out on bail.  Makaburi had won a lawsuit against Mombasa police and a settlement for approximately $7,000 just a week before “unidentified assailants” gunned him down in front of a prison courthouse on the outskirts of Mombasa.
However, police repeatedly deny involvement in any terror-related killings.
Mombasa County police commissioner, Robert Kitur, said police plan to launch an investigation into this latest killing, of Shahid Bhutt.
However, since assassinations of terror suspects are a form of justice aka “extrajudicial killings” an investigation is unlikely.
If the pattern persists Kenya can probably expect fresh attacks from al Shabaab in retaliation for this latest death.
Idris’s murder occurred just five days before the Mpekatoni massacre on Kenya’s north coast. Al Shabaab’s spokesman issued a statement claiming responsibility for the terror attack that left nearly up to 70 dead.
Mpekatoni village was the first of several small villages along Kenya’s north coast, where Shabaab killed non-Muslims.

For background into Kenya’s shadow wars, check out my In-depth, “Death Squads in Kenya’s Shadow War on Al-Shabaab Sympathizers” in my article for The Daily Beast.


Sheikh Mohamed Idris


Shahid Bhutt in Mombasa court on recent terror-related charges.
Shahid Bhutt’s bullet-ridden car (photo, Umar Babz Abdulaziz)

Militants Execute Non-Musims at Kenyan World Cup Watch

WORLD06. 16. 14
by Margot Kiser
A brutal attack on a crowd of World Cup watchers at a hotel in northern Kenya has reportedly left at least 48 people dead. One of the survivors told The Daily Beast that the assailants were killing non-Muslims execution-style.

Kenyan government officials claimed the attack could be the work of al-Shabaab, an Islamist terror group that killed more than 60 people during an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi last year.

Mohammed Shariff, who was among the viewers at the Breeze View hotel in the coastal town of Mpekatoni, said the gunmen were asking people whether they were Islamic before opening fire. “They told us to say, ‘There is no god but Allah.’ Then they told the non-Muslims to lie down and then shot them,” Shariff said through a translator.

When Shariff and his friends tried to flee, they found that the assailants had surrounded the hotel, but he managed to escape the gunfire. Many of the others weren’t so lucky.

In Kibaoni, a village less than a mile from Mpekatoni, shooters were reported to be going from door to door demanding that those inside recite the shahada. “Joseph,” a friend of one man who was shot dead, told The Daily Beast that the militants threatened to continue their assaults: “We are al-Shabaab and we will come back until the government removes the dogs from Somalia.”

Kenya has suffered a wave of political violence since 2011, when its armed forces invaded Somalia.
The scene was reminiscent of the stories that emerged from the Westgate attack, in which al-Shabaab militants stormed an upscale shopping center. Early reports claimed that the armed assailants demanded that everyone present recite the shahada, “Laillhailla Allahu.” However, as many Muslims as non-Muslims were killed at Westgate.
So far, only adult men have been reported killed in Sunday’s attack. But military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir stated via Twitter that on Sunday afternoon attackers driving two Nissan minivans sped into Mpeketoni and began shooting people indiscriminately.
The wide-ranging attack targeted two hotels, a gas station, and a police station in the thriving and fast-growing town, which is just under 15 miles from the island of Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site popular with tourists.

The coastal town was once populated by Swahilis (who are predominantly Muslim), but it became part of a “settlement scheme” for landless Kikuyus implemented by Jomo Kenyatta after independence. It is now a booming region that serves as a base for building crews, commercial developers, and services for the multibillion-dollar mega seaport under construction in nearby Magagoni.

Officials said assailants stole vehicles and weapons from the police station and that two policemen were among the dead. A witness told The Daily Beast that a bank also had been torched.

The identity of the attackers remains unclear, but government officials suggest that al Qaeda-allied Somali militant group al-Shabaab is likely to have carried out the attack.

Kenya has suffered a wave of political violence since 2011, when its armed forces invaded Somalia in response to a rash of kidnappings of tourists and aid workers. Al-Shabaab officially claimed responsibility for the mall attack as retaliation for Kenya’s keeping troops in Somalia. The Westgate mall attack was the deadliest since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

While the attack did not affect Lamu, town residents say they are worried. “Everyone either knows someone or has family in Mpekatoni,” said a resident. Her daughter, who attends boarding school in Mpekatoni, fled into the bush with classmates and teachers. The daughter reported hearing the assailants singing Somali songs.

Many residents of the area are Kikuyu farmers as well as Somali pastoralists. “What we could have here is another Tana River massacre,” said the resident, referring to a series of deadly tribal clashes in 2012 that left 52 dead.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Kenya’s interior minister, Joseph Ole Lenku, did not rule out internal politics as the cause of the Mpekatoni attack.
Later Monday evening, al-Shabaab issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, citing the same reasons it offered for the Westgate mall assault—to force the removal of Kenyan forces from Somalia. The statement also cited the recent extrajudicial killings by police of prominent Muslim preachers, particularly in Mombasa, and the illegal detention of thousands of Somali civilians in Nairobi.
But the land issue is still relevant. Tensions between upcountry Christian tribes, who also happen to be the country’s ruling elite, and Swahili residents, many of whom are of Arabic origin, have been mounting since independence. Arab traders began traveling to the Kenya coast beginning the first century A.D. and settling on the coast in the 17th century. Many of today’s Swahili residents are said to be descendents of Oman.
“The town [Mpekatoni] raided by the Mujahideen was a Muslim town before it was invaded and occupied by Christians,” al-Shabaab added in its statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
Equally ominous was the militant group’s warning to foreigners: “Kenya is now officially a war zone and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril. Foreigners with any regard for their safety and security should stay away from Kenya or suffer the consequences of their folly.”
Raids that involved the kidnapping of tourists in 2011 had already reduced the number of visitors to Kenya to 1.4 million last year from 1.7 million in 2012. The tourism industry is the nation’s second-biggest source of foreign currency, generating $1.1 billion in 2013, Bloomberg reports.
While pundits are saying the new attack will bring the country’s tourist sector to its knees, the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) is trying to assure the public otherwise. “There were no tourists in the area at the time of the incident. Lamu Island, one of Kenya’s primary tourist resorts, is in no way affected by this attack and neither is any other part of the Kenya coast,” the board said in a statement.

Postscript – Despite al-Shabaab claiming responsibility, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the nation on Tuesday blaming the opposition for the massacre.
“The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons,” said Kenyatta. “This, therefore, was not an al-Shabab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime.”
Tensions have been on the rise recently after a rival leader called for dialogue concerning the nation’s deteriorating security, economic and political situation. Raila Odinga dismissed Kenyatta’s claims that he is trying to overthrow the government.

Torched bank at Mpekatoni. (photo, Lamu Studio, 2014)


Some of the 67 casualties at  Mpekatoni (Lamu Studio, 2014)
Some of the 67 casualties at Mpekatoni (Lamu Studio, 2014)


Bomb blasted interior of bank (Lamu studio)
Shades of Westgate attack. Bomb blasted interior of bank, Mpekatoni (Lamu studio)