GARISSA, Kenya: June 29 (Xinhua) — Kenyan security forces on Friday launched a major manhunt for Al-Shabaab militants believed to have killed a driver and abducted four aid workers at a refugee camp in northern Kenya.
Police and eye witnesses said the gunmen shot the driver from the back and kidnapped four Norwegian Refugee Council (NFC) workers, among them two senior managers, at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab complex near the border with war-torn Somalia.
“The four were part of the delegation from NRC who were going to Ifo refugee camp to pick police for field visits but were abducted on the way before they could reach the police post,” an aid worker who sought anonymity told Xinhua by telephone.
The police are pursuing the attackers but so far the nationalities of those abducted could not be immediately established. However sources said the four are Canadian, Pakistani, Norwegian and Philippine respectively.
Regional deputy police commander, Phillip Ndolo, said the gunmen hijacked the vehicle and drove towards the border with Somalia, which lie about 100 km from the camps. In October last year, Al-Shabaab abducted two Spanish women, Montserrat Serra, 40, from Girona (Palafrugell), and Blanca Thiebaut, 30, from Madrid, both working as logisticians for international medical charity, MSF, and took them across the border into Somalia.
The abduction was the third incident of foreigners being abducted in the east African nation which neighbors the lawless Horn of Africa nation in just over a month. The Dadaab refugee complex shelters more than 460,000 refugees. A third of this refugee’s population arrived in 2011 alone, fleeing the conflict, drought, famine and human rights abuses in Somalia.
The camps in Dadaab opened two decades ago and were originally designed to host some 90,000 refugees. Aid workers said there has been a positive response from the international community and aid organizations since July 2011 as they increased their assistance to the people living in the camps and provided further assistance to refugees living on the camps’ outskirts.
However, aid agencies working in northern Kenya and in Somalia said the latest attack may again jeopardize the assistance to thousands of people in urgent need of humanitarian aid and that a quick and satisfactory solution is necessary. Kenyan forces are hunting down the Al-Shabaab militants inside Somalia to stop further incursions into Kenya.
The east African nation blames the grenade attacks and kidnappings to Somali Al- Shabaab militants. Since Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia last October, northern and parts of eastern Kenya have been hit by a series of blasts, many targeting local security forces and humanitarian workers.
Several attacks believed to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab have occurred in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa and Dadaab districts of northern Kenya even as the military reports gains against the group by capturing their military bases and killing scores of them. (Xinhua)