Mass grave found in Wajir town, 11 bodies thought to be of terror suspects found in Lanbiib

UNEXPLAINED: A shallow grave containing around eleven bodies just outside Wajir town.Photo/Courtesy



HUMAN rights organisations and families are alarmed over the alleged resurgence of extra-judicial killings and disappearances of terror suspects.

On Tuesday, at least 11 bodies were found in a shallow grave in Lanbiib on the outskirts of Wajir town. Two dismembered heads were found in Yahud dam, two kilometers east of Wajir, according to other sources.

Some victims were reportedly ‘arrested’ by people who identified themselves as police officers.

Locals said they heard gunshots on Thursday last week at around 8pm. Spent cartridges were also found at the scene of the mass grave.

In Mandera, around 17 people are reported missing after they were separately pulled into unnumbered vehicles by men in plain clothes with pistols.

Relatives, who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity, said they do not know where their family members are.

Other people have been reported missing in North Eastern, at the Coast and in upper Eastern, especially Marsabit, Moyale and Isiolo, and their mutilated bodies later found in thickets and shallow graves.

Yesterday Wajir County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia denied any police involvement in the alleged killings and disappearances.

He said the bodies could not be exhumed for investigation “because there was no court order as required by law”.

“Since there were no family members who so far claimed the bodies and sought identification, we could do nothing about it,” he told the Star on the phone from Wajir.

Hyenas had dug up some of the bodies and dismemebered them.

The families said they could not report the disappearances to the authorities for fear of being victimised.

In Garissa, the local branch of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims said cleric Sheikh Mohammed Ali Kheir is missing.

He was arrested by three men who identified themselves as police officers at the religious institution, Umul-Qura, where he is a teacher.

His captors confiscated his national ID and a mobile phone as his students, including one of his daughters, watched.

Supkem Garissa branch secretary Sheikh Abdullahi Salat said the disappearances have become a “worrying trend”.

“We are shocked to learn of the disappearance of the cleric who had been instrumental in peace programmes with the government that aimed at restoring peace in the county,” Salat added.

“As far as we are concerned, we are not aware of missing,” said Garissa OCPD Nicholas Maina on the phone. Sheikh Salat said Khalif was a “committed member of the security peace committee”.

He said his arrest would be a setback in the fight against terror and radicalization because the “government does not trust us anymore”.

On Thursday, two families reported their missing relatives to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission in Mombasa.

Huram Ali Mohamed told KNHRC officials that her husband, Ali Yussuf Mohamed, a madraasa teacher, was taken away by people in a black car on his way from the mosque in Spaki.

“He was handcuffed and they drove off with him. We do not know where they took him,” she said.

Muna Athman reported the similar disappearance of her husband. His whereabouts is also not known.

Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid said from Mombasa that they documented 51 recent killings and disappearances at the Coast.

“Some victims had some gunshot wounds. The government is doing enough to probe such a grave matter,” he said.

Amnesty International yesterday said the reports were an indicator of a “failing criminal justice system”.

“There is a very disturbing pattern of enforced disappearances by suspected police officers. The security agents do not trust our courts. They kill suspects because they believe that they will be released or given a lenient sentence,” Abdullahi Boru, a researcher with Amnesty, told the Star.

“Disappearances is a very wrong approach in the fight against terrorism. It breeds hatred and resentment among those affected,” he said.

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