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Shabaab terrorist rented room next to city police base



DAILY NATION — Security officers in Nairobi were Monday evening piecing together details of a plot to bomb the city, and cordoned off a room in a prime city hotel where the would-be terrorists booked a room since the Friday of February 9 this year.
The terror plot was foiled by hawk-eyed police officers hundreds of kilometres away in Merti, Isiolo County on Thursday last week, but the possible scale of devastation in the city, and the gallantry of the officers in the dusty hamlet up north, are just emerging.

The details started flowing following the arrest in Merti of two men who were part of a group of five transporting a cache of weapons.


A police investigation revealed that one of the suspects had been booked into a hotel opposite the Central Police Station in Nairobi ten days earlier.

Abdimajit Adan, 24, was arrested alongside Mohammed Nane on Thursday after a brief exchange of fire. Police found five AK-47 assault rifles and 36 fully loaded magazines in their car.
A third suspect was killed at the scene.

Moments earlier members of the public had alerted police officers returning from a security patrol at Yamincha that they had spotted a car, registration number KBM 200D, hidden in a thicket.

Merti Deputy County Commissioner Maiyo Julius, Police Commander Gifinalis Barasa, and his Administration Police counterpart Hussein Ibrahim immediately assembled a team and rushed to the hideout.

“When we got there, one of the occupants in the vehicle came out and started shooting at the officers,” a police report reads.

“The officers returned fire, killing him instantly.” Four others dashed for the bush but two were arrested.

Yesterday, the manager of Delta Hotel in Nairobi told the Nation Adan had stayed at the hotel since February 9 and left in the early morning of Thursday, February 15. He was arrested hours later in the unforgiving, sun-baked plains of Merti.

“When he came in he filled a computer-generated form and we attached it to a photocopy of his national identity card,” said the manager, who requested anonymity.

“His room had been occupied since then, but on Thursday at about 11.30pm police officers from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) came to the hotel and told me that one of our clients had been arrested.”


Police found Adan’s clothes, an air ticket from Elwak to Wilson Airport used on February 9, one Safaricom sim card, and two unused Airtel sim cards in the room. Adan had also left a note to the hotel management:

“Please reserve the room for me,” he urged. “I will pay when I return tomorrow.”

Police searched all the occupied rooms in the hotel to confirm the identities of all visitors.

They also arrested two other people in the Central Business District, believed to have been part of a larger terrorism cell that was planning to carry out a massive attack in Nairobi.


The city’s divisional police commanders were also immediately ordered to investigate the occupants of hotels within areas under their guard.

On Sunday morning, two days after Adan and Nane were arrested in Merti, police nabbed two more suspects and found on them receipts of two motorcycles.

The motorcycles — registration numbers KMEE 180R and KMEE 372R — had been purchased by a Mr Abdimajit Adan, and were recovered from two other suspects in Garbatula later.

A confidential report seen by the Nation indicates that the two suspects had been spotted by the public in a bush at Manyangab in Modagashe, about two kilometres west of a local police station.

They were identified as Ahmed Issack Ibrahim, 46, and Said Mohammed Salat, 19. Ibrahim claimed Kenyan citizenship while Salat is from Somalia.

It is not yet clear where the suspects were planning to attack, but police officers attached to the ATPU said the improvised explosive devices and grenades recovered from them would have been powerful enough to bring down more than one multi-storeyed building.

Normally, terrorists using such bomb contraptions connect the IEDs to the motherboards of phones they have linked using such applications as WhatsApp. After they place them in their target locations, they trigger them, causing a lot of destruction.

Preliminary investigations show the car bomb was assembled by Al-Shabaab experts at El-Adde in Somalia.

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Somali News

BREAKING: 2 blasts, gunfire rock Somalia’s capital



MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Somali police official says two car bomb blasts have rocked the capital, Mogadishu, followed by sustained gunfire. Three people have been killed.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein says the first blast, apparently caused by a suicide car bomber, occurred near Somalia’s intelligence headquarters.

The second blast occurred near parliament’s headquarters, where security forces have engaged with gunmen thought to be trying to attack the presidential palace.

The explosions have shattered a months-long period of calm in Mogadishu, which is often the target of attacks by the al-Shabab extremist group.

There is no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday evening’s blasts.

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Somalia’s first forensic lab targets rape impunity



AFP — Garowe – The new freezers at Somalia’s only forensic laboratory can store thousands of DNA samples, although for now there are just five.

The big hope is that they could be the start of a revolution in how the troubled Horn of Africa country tackles its widespread sexual violence – provided some daunting hurdles are overcome.

The first sample arrived at the start of the year taken on a cotton swab from the underwear of a woman, a rape victim from the village of Galdogob.

It was wrapped in paper and driven 250km to the Puntland Forensic Centre in Garowe, capital of semi-autonomous Puntland, slipped into a protective glass tube and placed in one of the three ultra-low temperature fridges.

If DNA ID can be teased from the sample, this would be a crucial step in convicting the woman’s rapist.

No longer would it be a case of he-said-she-said, in which the survivor is less often believed than the accused. Two decades of conflict and turmoil have made Somalia a place where lawlessness and sexual violence are rampant.

“Now, people who have been raped hide because they don’t have evidence,” said Abdifatah Abdikadir Ahmed, who heads the Garowe police investigations department.

But with the lab, he said, “it’s a scientific investigation. There are biological acts you can zero in on.”


Not yet, however.

Abdirashid Mohamed Shire, who runs the lab, has a team of four technicians ready but is awaiting the arrival of the final pieces of equipment.

Their work to provide the evidence that might convict or exonerate is yet to begin.

And the pressure is on. The freezers mean the DNA samples can be safely stored for years but Somali law allows a rape suspect to be held for a maximum of 60 days. Shire needs the analysis and identification machines urgently so that, as he put it, “justice will be timely served”.

The laboratory, partly funded by Sweden, was launched last year after the Puntland state government enacted a Sexual Offences Act in 2016, which criminalised sexual offences and imposed tough penalties.

But technology alone will not solve Somalia’s many judicial weaknesses.

The DNA sample from Galdogob, for example, was stored in unclear and unrefrigerated conditions for five days before being sent to the lab, meaning a defence counsel could potentially argue the DNA evidence had been tampered with.

Human rights lawyers worry the new lab might backfire for this reason.

“A lot of thought needs to be given to how the chain of custody can be preserved in these kinds of cases,” said Antonia Mulvey of Legal Action Worldwide, a Kenya-based non-profit organisation.

More fundamental still is the failure of Somalia’s police to take sexual assault cases – and their jobs – seriously.

Corruption is rife, with a legal advisor to Puntland’s justice ministry saying officers “meddle” in cases, undermining them for personal gain.

“My concern is that the corrupted system could not make a sure success of the lab,” the advisor said, requesting anonymity to speak candidly. “Investing in the lab is good, but we need to think about the preconditions.”

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) which helped pay for the lab is trying to address this by running training programmes for dozens of the Garowe police on sample collection, gender violence investigations and documentation.

But, the legal advisor cautioned that donors can only do so much.

“The issue is more complicated than training police. It relates to the political commitment of the government. UNFPA can train police but who will pay those you train? Are they given power to do the work?”

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Briefing Room

US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists



VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

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