Kenya – presidential advisor says Al Shabab wants religious war

BBC

Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabab ‘wants religious war’

Kenyan security forces at the scene of the bus attack near the town of Mandera in northern Kenya - 22 November 2014The driver of the bus tried to accelerate away from the militants, but the vehicle got stuck in wet mud

The slaughter of 28 people on a bus in Kenya is a bid to start a religious war, a senior adviser to President Uhuru Kenyatta has told the BBC.

Abdikadir Mohammed called on Kenyans of “all faiths and creeds” to stand together against the “heinous crimes”.

At dawn on Saturday, al-Shabab gunmen attacked the bus in northern Kenya, shooting dead non-Muslim passengers.

The Somalia-based Islamist group has carried out numerous attacks across Kenya since 2011.

Survivor Ahmed Mahat told the BBC how the bus attack took place

The bus was travelling to the capital, Nairobi, when it was stopped in Mandera county, not far from the border with Somalia.

Gunmen separated out non-Muslims by asking passengers to read from the Koran, officials and witnesses said. Those who failed were then shot in the head.

Kenya’s Red Cross confirmed that 28 of the 60 passengers on the bus were killed, 19 men and nine women.

One survivor, Douglas Ochwodho, told how he was singled out to be killed but was not shot and then pretended to be dead among the bodies.

‘Heinous crimes’

“The aim is to create conflict between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in this country,” Mr Mohammed told the BBC. “The aim is to create a religious war, religious strife, in Kenya.”

“We have had a lot of the Muslim leaders come out today [Saturday] and strongly condemn this and call on Kenyans of all faiths and creeds to stand together against these heinous crimes and criminals.”

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Al-Shabab said the attack was in retaliation for recent killings of Muslims by the Kenyan security forces in the coastal town of Mombasa.

The Kenyan authorities said they had begun to identify the killers and would bring them to justice.

The interior ministry said a camp belonging to the attackers had been destroyed by Kenyan military helicopters and jets, with “many killed”.

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Analysis: Anne Soy, BBC News, Nairobi

Mandera shares a long and porous border with Somalia. The area – in fact the region – has been prone to insecurity since Kenya’s independence in 1963.

It’s a vast arid and semi-arid area that is sparsely populated and characterised by poor infrastructure and very few schools and hospitals. Communities in the north have felt marginalised by the national government for decades.

Guns are readily available due to its proximity to Somalia and the south of Ethiopia where the Oromo Liberation Front is active. Al-Shabab has a base on the Somali side of the border – Gadondhawe – which was recently bombarded by Kenyan warplanes.

It’s a confluence of factors that makes it a fertile ground for recruitment by the militant group.

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Relatives of those who were killed cry as the bodies of their loved ones arrive at Chiromo mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya - 22 November 2014The bodies of the 19 men and nine women were airlifted to Nairobi, where grieving family members waited

One of the passengers on the bus, Ahmed Mahat, told the BBC that the bus driver tried to accelerate away from the militants but the vehicle became stuck in mud, about 30km (19 miles) from Mandera town.

He said about 10 heavily-armed men speaking Somali ordered the passengers off the bus.

“When we got down, passengers were separated according to Somali and non-Somalis,” Mr Mahat said.

Some Somalis were shot after pleading with the gunmen to spare non-Somali passengers, he said.

‘Avoidable massacre’

A local official quoted by Kenyan media said the government had failed to answer their pleas for extra security in an area “prone to attacks”.

Al-Shabab – a potent threat in East Africa

“This is not the first time the government has totally ignored us, and you can now see the how many innocent precious lives have been lost,” county official Abdullahi Abdirahman said.

“Today we are experiencing avoidable massacre,” he added.

Britain and the United States condemned the attack, pledging to help Kenya in its fight against terrorism.

Last week, Kenyan police shut down four mosques in the port city of Mombasa, a largely Muslim city, saying they were being used to store weapons. The raids triggered apparent revenge attacks by Muslim youths.

Kenya has experienced a series of al-Shabab attacks since it sent troops to Somalia three years ago to help fight the militant group.

Mali – Islamists abduct 10 children and kill two

Reuters

Suspected Islamist fighters kill two children, abduct 10

Sat, Nov 22 2014

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist fighters kidnapped 10 children and killed two others who tried to escape near two towns in Mali on Saturday, capping a week of violence in the West African country’s desert north, a senior Malian military official said.

Al Qaeda-linked Islamists seized northern Mali in 2012, forcing a French-led military intervention last year that scattered the fighters across a vast region with porous borders. However, they continue to carry out insurgent-style attacks.

Lieutenant Colonel Diaran Kone, an official at Mali’s defence ministry, said Saturday’s incident occurred in the morning at settlements outside the towns of Aguelhoc and Kidal.

“It was a forced recruitment of child soldiers,” he told Reuters. “Twelve were kidnapped. They shot and killed two who tried to escape.”

The raids came the day after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a phosphate mine in the town of Bourem without causing any other casualties, according to a government statement on Friday.

The bodies of two Tuareg separatist militants were found near the village of Takabort, around 40 km (25 miles) outside Kidal on Thursday.

“We found them with their throats slit like sheep,” Algabass Ag Intalla, head of the Tuareg High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), told Reuters. “They were both HCUA militants. Investigations are under way to find out who did this.”

A third round of peace negotiations began in Algiers on Thursday between the Malian government and a grouping of mostly Tuareg rebel groups, who split with their former Islamist allies ahead of the French offensive.

The talks are meant to decide on the status of the north in the aim of ending decades of uprisings there that have destabilised the entire country.

South Africa – further spy tape revelations could rock Zuma over graft

Mail and Guardian

Evidence released to the DA raises significant questions regarding the dropping of graft charges against President Jacob Zuma.

A Democratic Alliance affidavit on the spy tapes provides insight into why former acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped more than 700 charges against President Jacob Zuma on April 6 2009. (Lisa Skinner, M&G)

ANALYSIS

“The state alleges … an overriding and pervasive scheme of corruption that was designed to assist the entire [Schabir] Shaik/ Nkobi [Holdings] empire in all its business … It was also designed to be of extraordinary duration and ultimately to keep [Jacob] Zuma, as the holder of the highest offices, on the Nkobi payroll indefinitely as a beneficiary of Nkobi’s success …

“The mode of conferring benefits to Zuma extended to the ANC in his capacity as the highest office bearer of the ANC, which was also to be an eternal beneficiary in the extended scheme of corruption.”

Prosecutor Billy Downer’s ringing words, contained in the material recently extracted by the Democratic Alliance from a deeply reluctant government, breathe confidence. Writing in December 2008, Downer really thought the prosecution’s “Bumiputera team” had Zuma sprawling on a pin.

And in their totality, the released records, which include the “spy tapes”, provide a powerful vindication of his view. Anyone interested in whether South Africa’s first citizen deserves his day in court should read the DA’s supplementary affidavit, which is based foursquare on them.

*Read the DA’s supplementary affidavit here

Filed a fortnight ago, the 104-page document hardly caused a media ripple. But it provides a quantum leap in our understanding of why then-acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe withdrew more than 700 counts of corruption, money laundering and racketeering against Zuma on April 6 2009, 14 months after formally reinstating them.

The transcripts of intercepted conversations, mainly between Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and former prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka, are the fruit of a five-year legal battle, including two interlocutory applications that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Protecting the NPA at all costs
Once digested, the new evidence that Mpshe acted unreasonably could fuel discussions in the ANC about an exit strategy for Zuma, already weakened by the Nkandla scandal.

Its full implications will perhaps only dawn on South Africans when the DA’s application for a review of Mpshe’s decision gets under way, probably in March next year.

Justifying that decision, Mpshe argued that the tapes demonstrated a political conspiracy between McCarthy and Ngcuka, by then a businessperson and prominent backer of then-president Thabo Mbeki’s re-election campaign, that prejudiced Zuma and would have denied him a fair trial.

Central evidence of this plot, it was claimed, was the politically motivated decision to postpone the serving of the indictment on Zuma until after the ANC’s December 2007 Polo­kwane conference, apparently to shield Mbeki from a backlash from delegates. Also held up as evidence of political manipulation was the decision to launch charges immediately after Polokwane, presumably to discredit Zuma, then the ANC president-elect.

The tapes reflect very poorly on McCarthy, depicting him as a Mbeki sycophant happy to discuss the timing of the Zuma indictment at length with the president’s aide-de-camp. More importantly, from the DA’s depiction of the evidence, he emerges as a boastful self-promoter who claimed influence in high places when he had none.

But the record also shows that McCarthy’s political sympathies and alleged braggadocio had no bearing on the Zuma case. It demonstrates pretty conclusively that the decision to postpone the serving of the indictment was Mpshe’s, whose concern was to dispel any impression that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was interfering in the conference.

McCarthy was on leave at the time, and later told Downer that he was not consulted. In this context, his notorious declaration to Ngcuka that “he felt like going to Polokwane and charging [Zuma] there” is little more than tough-guy vainglory. Much the same applies to the post-conference timing of the charges. Mpshe ultimately decided this after a “multi­layered corporate” process, whereas Downer pointed out that “the [prosecution] team’s recommendation was to prosecute as soon as possible, for good prosecutorial reasons”.

Fast forward to April 2009, when pressure to clear the last barrier to a Zuma presidency intensified before the looming election. Mpshe apparently still accepted that the prosecution had merit.

What changed his mind?
According to the DA, the records suggest that confidential oral representations by Zuma’s lawyers, Kemp J Kemp and Michael Hulley – later described by two senior NPA officials, Thanda Mgwengwe and Sibongile Mzinyathi, as “blackmail” – were intended to shock the NPA into dropping the charges without regard for the strength of the case.

These included claims of serious wrongdoing by McCarthy, Ngcuka, Downer, former justice minister Penuell Maduna, then-deputy national director of public prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr “and many other prominent politicians and members of the intelligence services”.

Recorded notes quote Zuma’s lawyers as saying that whether the information was lawfully obtained “is beside the point – we will release it”, and that, in a plea for a permanent stay of the charges, “we will mention the issue of senior NPA officials involved in political machinations. Whether we win or lose … people won’t forget it”.

The Bumiputera team urged rejection of the representations, branding them irrelevant to the Zuma case and pointing out that they were not deposed on oath.

But the notes reveal the NPA leaders’ deep anxiety that the allegations might filter into the public domain.

In early March, Zuma’s lawyers turned the screws by revealing that they had acquired deeply compromising transcripts of intercepted phone calls and SMSes, including ones implicating “TM” (Mbeki) – the so-called spy tapes.

Downer and others reacted by telling Mpshe that the claims of a political plot were a “red herring”, as neither the prosecuting team nor Mpshe were implicated.

Downer also pointed out that, as the transcripts could only have been illegally obtained, the NPA should not listen to or verify them.

The prosecutors’ stance was bolstered by two senior advocates brought in to advise the NPA, Wim Trengove and Andrew Breitenbach, who held that the sole consideration should be the strength of the case and that “the proper forum for evaluating the allegations to fair trial is court”.

Crucial factors ignored 
Two other factors then changed the game, the tapes suggest. The first was Hofmeyr, shown as the only senior official to press for the dropping of charges, but not on their merits. He referred to the reputational risk to the NPA, hinting that he would quit if the prosecution went ahead.

“The other thing is at the strategic level, trying to save this organisation,” he is recorded as saying. “The [Scorpions] were closed because of this case. The NPA is wobbling, with a few [top officials] looking for other jobs. It is strategically unwise to say with all this info it took a court to finally show the NPA that this case should proceed.”

In an exchange between McCarthy and another official, Faiek Davids, in December 2007, Hofmeyr was described as “actively a pro-Zuma man” who was “unconvinced” about renewing Zuma’s prosecution.

The last straw seems to have been Mpshe’s decision to listen to the tapes on March 31 2009. The reaction was immediate – apparently infuriated by what he had heard, Mpshe told the NPA managers the next day that he was abandoning the prosecution. Mzinyathi records that “after listening to the tapes … he got angry … he decided to drop the charges”.

Whether Zuma had a strong case to answer seems to have played no part in Mpshe’s emotional response.

In a final memorandum two weeks later, the Bumiputera team recorded its objection that the single most important factor – whether McCarthy’s behaviour had improperly influenced the decision to prosecute and was likely to influence the fairness of the trial – had been ignored.

Throughout the 11 years of the corruption investigation, Zuma and his lawyers have studiously avoided engaging the case on its merits. The strategy has been threefold: to politicise the issue, to attack the investigators and their institutions, and to throw up a dense smokescreen of legal technicalities.

More of the same can be expected in response to the new evidence. The problem for the president now is that he can no longer rely on blind political support, as he could in 2009. And the case for overturning Mpshe’s decision has got a whole lot stronger.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Click here.

 

Kenya -Al Shabab claim Mandera bus killings

BBC

Gunmen from the Somali militant group al-Shabab say they have attacked a bus in northern Kenya, killing 28 people.

The bus was travelling to the capital, Nairobi, when it was stopped in Mandera county, not far from the Somali border.

Gunmen separated out non-Muslims by asking passengers to read from the Koran, officials and witnesses said. Those who failed were then shot in the head.

Al-Shabab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011.

A statement on a website linked to the Islamist group carried a statement saying the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier this week.

Kenya’s interior ministry said on its Twitter feed that a camp belonging to the attackers had been destroyed by Kenyan military helicopters and jets, with “many killed”.

Analysis by Anne Soy, BBC News, Nairobi
Mandera shares a long and porous border with Somalia. The area – in fact the region – has been prone to insecurity since Kenya’s independence in 1963.

It’s a vast arid and semi-arid area that is sparsely populated and characterised by poor infrastructure and very few schools and hospitals. Communities in the north have felt marginalised by the national government for decades.

Guns are readily available due to its proximity to Somalia and the south of Ethiopia where the Oromo Liberation Front is active. Al-Shabab has a base on the Somali side of the border – Gadondhawe – which was recently bombarded by Kenyan warplanes.

It’s a confluence of factors that makes it a fertile ground for recruitment by the militant group.

Point blank’
One of the passengers on the bus, Ahmed Mahat, told the BBC that there were more than 60 passengers on board when it was attacked, before dawn on Saturday, about 30km (19 miles) from Mandera town.

The driver tried to accelerate away, but the vehicle became stuck in mud caused by recent heavy rains, he said.

About 10 heavily-armed men speaking Somali ordered the passengers off the bus.

“When we got down, passengers were separated according to Somali and non-Somalis,” Mr Mahat said.

“The non-Somalis were ordered to read some verses of the holy Koran, and those who failed to read were ordered to lie down. One by one they were shot in the head at point blank range.”

Some Somalis were shot after pleading with the gunmen to spare non-Somali passengers, Mr Mahat added.

Kenya’s Red Cross said emergency workers were trying to retrieve bodies from the scene.

Security agencies were “in pursuit of the criminal gang” that carried out the attack, the interior ministry said. It described the assailants as “bandits”.

Police chief David Mwole Kimaiyo promised a “major security operation”
A local official quoted by Kenyan media said the government had failed to answer their pleas for extra security.

“This place has been prone to attacks,” county official Abdullahi Abdirahman told The Daily Nation.

“This is not the first time the government has totally ignored us, and you can now see the how many innocent precious lives have been lost.”

Mr Mahat, a teacher from Mandera, said police never came to rescue people from attacks for fear of being ambushed themselves.

Mombasa raids
The attack comes after a week of heightened tension in Mombasa, which has suffered a series of al-Shabab attacks.

Security forces raided mosques in the city, saying they were being used to store weapons. The raids triggered apparent revenge attacks by Muslim youths.

Kenya has experience a series of al-Shabab attacks since it sent troops to Somalia three years ago to help fight the militant group.

Mandera, a remote area in Kenya’s north-east that shares a long and porous border with Somalia, has been one of the regions worst-affected by the violence.

On the Somali side of the border, al-Shabab is said to have a base that was recently bombed by Kenyan warplanes. It was not immediately clear whether this was the same base targeted by Kenya following Saturday’s attack.

There was unrest in Mandera in June after two clerics accused of belonging to al-Shabab were shot dead. Residents protested that the clerics had no links to the group.

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South Sudan – Garang’s widow says talks with Kiir about reconciliation

Sudan Tribune
November 20, 2014 (JUBA) – Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of South Sudan’s former leader, John Garang said reconciliatory talks she recently held with president Salva Kiir were meant to bridge existing difference, not lobby for positions in the next government.

Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of the late John Garang, founding leader of the country’s ruling party (SPLM)
Last week, Nyandeng and other former South Sudan ruling party (SPLM) members, who included ex-secretary general, Pagan Amum, met president Kiir in Uganda.

“This is a very important step in trying to bring peace and stability to our people and the country. The unity of the SPLM is very important because the current conflict was sparked by political debates within the SPLM leadership and if the president, who is one of the key players in the conflict, is genuine in his campaign for peace, then this is something encouraging,” Nyandeng told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

“After all this is not the first time that the SPLM has split,” she added.

Nyandeng, a critic of the current leadership, called for honest dialogue that bridges differences.

“People should not sit idle and say prayer is the only solution. People should be made aware of the importance of being in a state of preparedness and make sure they acquire what they need to do some dialogue. We should be ready to do this for the sake of the unity of country,” she said.

A former advisor to president Kiir, Nyandeng defended her role in the ongoing peace process, but said the meeting with the South Sudanese leader was not an attempt to return to government at the expense of reforms she advocated for before prior to her sacking.

“It is unfortunate if there are people who seem to interpret the meeting we had in Uganda with president Salva and members of his delegation to mean attempt to return to the government because of any isolation in the peace process,” said Nyandeng.

“I am not isolated in the peace process. I am part of the process and following it closely,” she added.

The former first lady further clarified that the Kampala meeting was neither her initiative nor from the former detainees, but an arrangement by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

“We responded because president Museveni plays a critical role in the process and use his influence to facilitate dialogue for a more inclusive peaceful and democratic process,” she said.

(ST)

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Africa-ebola – Ban Ki-moon hopes the diesease can be beaten in 2015

BBC

Ebola outbreak can be ended in 2015: UN’s Ban Ki-moon

From left to right: WHO chief Margaret Chan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim and IMF director Christine LagardeBan Ki-moon (2nd left) stressed that the world “must get to zero (Ebola) cases

The deadly Ebola outbreak can be ended “by the middle of next year” if the world speeds up its response, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.

But he warned that although the rate of new cases was slowing in parts of West Africa, Mali – where six people have died – was now of deep concern.

And the head of the UN Ebola mission, Anthony Banbury, said the world was “far away” from beating the virus.

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been worst hit by the Ebola outbreak.

Dr Rodier, WHO on the Ebola outbreak in Guinea: “Overall it looks relatively stable”

More than 5,400 people have died in those three countries, along with a handful of others in Nigeria, Mali, Spain and the US.

In a separate development, Liberian police said all the country’s beaches would be closed from 29 November until Liberia was declared free of Ebola.

In a statement, the police said anyone using the beach in violation of the order would be prosecuted.

Task force

Speaking at a meeting in Washington with officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Ban said: “If we continue to accelerate our response, we can contain and end the outbreak by the middle of next year.”

Health workers spray disinfectant a street in Bamako, Mali. Photo: November 2014Nearly 500 people are currently under surveillance in Mali, the authorities there say

He said that so far results in the international effort to tackle Ebola remained uneven, stressing that many more health workers were needed in the worst-hit countries in West Africa.

“Our end game is not near. We must get to zero cases. Ebola is not a disease where you can leave a few cases and say you’ve done enough.”

Mr Ban said the situation in Mali was of particular concern.

WHO chief Margaret Chan is to travel to Mali later on Saturday, and the UN has already announced a special taskforce for the country to deal with the outbreak.

Mr Banbury, the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (Unmeer), warned that “we are far, far away from ending this crisis”.

“There is a long battle ahead of us,” he added.

Under surveillance

The UN’s comments came as a doctor in Mali died after treating a patient who had sparked a second Ebola wave in the country.

The doctor, whose name has not been released, had worked in a clinic in the capital Bamako where an Islamic preacher from Guinea was admitted last month.

Preacher Oussa Koita was initially diagnosed with a kidney problem and has since died, along with another health worker.

A two-year-old girl also died from Ebola in Mali last month in a separate case, which did not lead to any further infections.

Nearly 500 people are currently under surveillance in Mali, the authorities there say.

Ebola is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person showing symptoms, such as fever or vomiting.

People caring for the sick or handling the bodies of people infected Ebola are therefore especially vulnerable.

How Ebola spreads

More on This Story

Kenya – 28 killed in northern Kenya bus attack

Nation

At least 28 killed in suspected Shabaab attack on Nairobi-bound bus in Mandera

Four police officers were among those killed in the Mandera bus attack. County Commander Noah Mwivanda says most of the dead are teachers and health workers.

Relatives of those believed to have travelled in the bus that was attacked by suspected Al-Shabaab militia outside the Makkah bus offices in Mandera. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary

  • The county commander said reports indicated that all those who had so far been executed were Christians who failed to recite verses of the Quran.
  • Abdullahi Abdirahman, Arabiya Ward Representative also confirmed the 5:30am attack, noting that the place has been prone of attacks.

MANASE OTSIALO

At least 28 people were killed after suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked a Nairobi-bound bus in Mandera.

Confirming the 5:30am attack, Mandera East deputy County Commissioner Elvis Korir said initial reports indicated that about a 100 armed militia stopped the bus and ordered everyone out.

He said the attack happened as the bus — from Makkah Travels firm —climbed the hills of the notorious Omar Jillo area in Arabiya Ward, Mandera East Sub-county.

“We are told a hundred armed men stopped the bus just after it left Arabiya area and all the passengers were asked to come down. They were then divided into two groups, of Somali and non-Somali,” said Mr Korir.

He said the non-Somali group was sprayed with bullets as the other group watched in disbelief.

“We are told more than twenty-eight people have been killed and many others injured but we are yet to know the exact happening since we are planning to dispatch a team of security personnel to the scene,” he said.

(Read: Governor faults police for ‘downplaying’ Mandera attacks)

Relatives of those believed to have travelled in the bus that was attacked milled outside the Makkah Travels offices in Mandera Town.

Records at the office indicated that 59 passengers were booked to travel to Nairobi.

Mr Korir said arrangements were underway to have the bodies brought to Mandera General Hospital, 30 kilometres away from the scene of the attack.

ISLAMIC VERSES Speaking as he dispatched the police to the scene, Mandera County Police Commander, Noah Mwivanda, said the militia asked everyone on board to recite Islamic verses and those who failed were shot dead.

“We have been communicating to two young ladies who managed to escape. They said, from their hiding, that four police officers are among the dead but we are yet to confirm because some officers had just left for December holidays,” said Mr Mwivanda.

Mr Mwivanda said there were plans for an aerial surveillance of the area before the security team leaves for rescue.

He said this was because a similar attack late last year at the area was used as a trap, in which eight police officers were killed.

We are told these people are well armed and we can’t just go like that since it could be a trap, just like in the past, said Mr Mwivanda.

PRONE TO ATTACKS

Abdullahi Abdirahman, the Arabiya Ward Representative, also confirmed the attack, noting that the place has been prone to attacks.

“This place has been prone to attacks, this is not the first time the government has totally ignored us, and you can now see the how many innocent precious lives have been lost,” he said.

Relatives of those believed to have travelled in the bus that was attacked by suspected alshabaab outside the MAKKAH bus offices in Mandera.

Arrangements underway to have the bodies brought to mandera hospital 30 kms away from the scene.

Additional reporting by Abdimalik Hajir