A Kenyan official said on Monday that the construction of a perimeter wall along the porous border with Somalia has helped thwart terror attacks in the border region of Mandera County.
Northeastern Regional Commissioner Mohamud Saleh said the security wall has already covered ten kilometers from the Kenya-Ethiopia-Somalia border and plans are to increase the stretch to 28 kilometers.
Saleh said since the stretch of the wall was constructed, incidents of attacks in the town have gone down by more than 90 percent.
“Those terrorists used to attack and run to Somalia but since the wall was erected, the incidents are now almost zero in Mandera Town,” he said on the phone as he inspected the ongoing construction of the wall.
The wall, a series of concrete barriers, fences, ditches and observation posts overlooked by CCTV stations, is expected to stretch from the Indian Ocean to Mandera, where both countries converge with Ethiopia.
Saleh said 90 percent of Mandera County is peaceful apart from the stretch from Arabia to Kotulo where he termed as “volatile, unpredictable, challenging and ambiguous.”
He said Al-Shabaab operatives use the area to carry out incursions by attacking security vehicles, plant landmines, target security installations and communication masts before retreating back to Somalia.
The regional administrator, however, said the government is reviewing its strategies to come up with new methods to combat terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism in the region at large.
Mandera town is situated at the Somalia border and stretches for about 20 kilometres from Border Point One, making it prone to frequent terrorist attacks.
Somalis living at Bula-hawa town on the Somalia side had violated the no-man’s land and encroached into Kenya. The wall will thus help rectify the situation.
Saleh said the government will fast-track the construction of the 700-km security wall aimed at blocking Al-Shabaab militants who enter Kenya through the porous border.
The wall is manned by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers who are already on the ground. A surveillance road is also being built, running parallel with the barrier, for easier monitoring of the border.
Kenya began constructing a security wall which runs to the coastal town of Lamu in April 2015 to help prevent Somali militants from crossing into Kenya to carry out terror attacks.
Kenyan officials have said the purpose of the wall is to demarcate the Kenya-Somalia border besides securing the country from Al-Shabaab militants based in Somalia.
Kenyan officials have said the security wall will provide a long-term security efforts to secure the border, adding that once the wall’s construction is completed, it will only be crossed by entering through the appropriate border points.
The barrier was expected to be modeled on the snaking structure that separates Israel from Palestine’s West Bank and would have seen bricks, mortar and barbed wire line the border.
Kenyan authorities have also blamed the militants for being behind spates of kidnapping of expatriates working in the sprawling refugee camps in the incursion-prone northern region and tourists in the coastal archipelago towns of Mombasa and Lamu.
Officials link these attacks to the fact that Mandera (a border town in Kenya’s northeast) and Bula Hawa (an adjoining town in Somalia) are barely two kilometers apart, thus making it easy for terrorists to cross the border and attack.