April 28th 2017

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Somali traders in Narok allege plot to drive them from region

"We need to be told why the officers based at Mutenkuar GSU Camp and Kilgoris GK Prison did not fire even a single shot to scare away the gangsters who had a field day terrorising our people before getting away on motorbikes,’’ said Mr Ali.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 20 Dec 2016 17:30 EAT

Traders going about their daily chores in Narok Town.

Businessmen from the Somali community in Trans Mara have expressed fears of an orchestrated move to drive them out of Narok County. Narok has witnessed a spike in inter-ethnic and armed crime over the last several months, but the Somali businessmen have expressed worry that their members have been targeted by gangsters who have stolen their commodities and money.

Last Friday, at the burial of Abdullahi Bullo, who was killed by thugs the previous night, at the Lolgorian Muslim Cemetery, Somali businessmen claimed the attacks against the community appeared systematic, alleging that there was a pattern of crime which could be meant to scare them out of business in the region. The group's spokesman Ibrahim Ali  said many of their shops at Ongata Barikoi, Lolgorian, Esoit, Pusanki and Mutenkuar have been broken into with huge sums of money and other property stolen from the shopkeepers at gunpoint. “The killing of our brother Abdullahi Bullo by gun-wielding gangsters who broke into his shop is a wake-up call to us that it is no longer business as usual and that some people may be after us, we cannot just sit and watch," he said.

The businessmen blamed the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) and Kenya Prison Service officers stationed a few metres from Mutenkuar shopping centre for failing to respond to the attack by the gangsters who broke into several shops that night and terrorised the owners for almost two hours. The thugs raided several shops and left at their own pleasure. "We need to be told why the officers based at Mutenkuar GSU Camp and Kilgoris GK Prison did not fire even a single shot to scare away the gangsters who had a field day terrorising our people before getting away on motorbikes,’’ said Mr Ali.

A long term Somali resident of the area, Mahmoud Handulle, said he has lived in the area since 1957 and had never seen so many attacks. He said the wave of attacks targeting Somali businessmen was a big concern given the inaction by security officials. "The government should allow us to own guns to protect ourselves since we cannot accept to be butchered like chicken as we watch, yet we are peaceful Kenyans who are working hard to feed our families and build the economy of the country," Mr Handulle pleaded.

However, security officials have assured the businessmen that their grievances will be addressed. Trans Mara West Deputy County Commissioner Joseph Maina said the government has increased security patrols in the area. He promised an investigation to establish whether security personnel based at Mutenkuar failed to respond to the attack on time with necessary action being taken.

"We are appealing to the members of the Somali community to be patient as we  carry out investigations to ensure that the thugs who have been attacking businessmen are brought to book since we cannot allow them to scare away investors," said Mr Maina.

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