February 25th 2018

Top Stories / National

Use of IEDs complicates war on terror attacks as deaths rise to 35 in a month

Last month, at least eight police officers were killed in two roadside bombings in the area, with Al Shabaab Islamist militants based in neighboring Somalia claiming responsibility

By Lucy Mwihakilmwihaki@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 20 Jun 2017 14:16 EAT

Kenya Defence Force and Police officers at the scene where one of Security vehicle was shattered by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted by Al Shabaab last month

The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) has complicated the fight against terror attacks spearheaded by al-shabaab in different parts of the country which has left 35 people dead majority being the police in one month.

Four people, including a government official, were killed during an IED attack on Friday in the Northern Kenyan town of Mandera. The attack happened on the road connecting Lafey and Elwak; 11 who were injured were rushed to the hospital while four people have died from the explosion.

A chief was among the four who died in Mandera after their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device on Friday. Mandera county commissioner Fredrick Shisia said 11 other passengers were injured. Among the casualties were two local leaders. "One chief died and another got seriously injured," Shisia said. We suspect it is al Shabaab militants, as they are the ones who are behind planting of IEDs in the area."

Last month, at least eight police officers were killed in two roadside bombings in the area, with Al Shabaab Islamist militants based in neighboring Somalia claiming responsibility.

Al Shabaab, fighting to overthrow Somalia's government and impose its own harsh interpretation of sharia law, says it will continue to attack Kenya until it withdraws its troops from an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Fredrick Shisia, Mandera, county commissioner said that the four who have been killed were traveling in a commercial matatu (minibus) on a route close to the Kenyan-Somali border. Shisia said. “It is unfortunate that two of my chiefs were in the same vehicle and [one] is dead and the other is in a critical condition.”

He said that the police were treating the incident as a terror attack as the Somali based-al Shabaab militant group has carried out numerous assaults along the porous Kenya-Somali boader attack in the past.

The latest attack, for which the militant group claimed responsibility, happened on June 6 when four aid workers were killed by a roadside bomb in Garissa County. More than 34 people were killed majority being police officers in similar attacks last month while on border patrols in Northern Kenya.

The IED is a "home-made" bomb that comes in many forms and levels of sophistication. They can be concealed along roads, carried in a bag or strapped to the body, or loaded on a car. They are made from commercially available materials or rigged out of military explosives. They are cheap to make and effective in allowing a single device to disrupt troop and civilian movements while concealing the individual deploying it.

IEDs are the leading cause of death of soldiers and police forces worldwide, fighting terrorists and insurgent groups. As of 2013, research shows they were responsible for 70 per cent of fatalities in foreign armies operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Action on Armed Violence, a UK NGO, recorded almost 47,000 fatalities in 2016 from explosives, with 70 per cent of this number being civilians. The majority of these deaths were caused by IEDs. In earlier research, this time specifically on harm from IEDs in 2011-16, AOAV recorded 7,223 IED attacks Worldwide, causing over 124,000 fatalities and injuries, 81 per cent being civilian.

A disproportionate amount of the harm, up to 90 per cent, was from attacks in populated areas even though only 58 per cent of the IEDs were used there. In six years, 85 countries recorded at least one IED attack. Between 2011-13, there was a sharp increase in IED fatalities with a 70 per cent rise in civilian deaths.


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