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Thursday, June 14, 2007

MISSING KENYA POLICE OFFICERS BE-HEADED AT KENYA-SOMALI BORDER

Two Kenyan police officers who have been missing for the last three days have been found beheaded, according to security sources.

Kenyan forces had yesterday crossed into Somalia to search for policemen suspected to have been abducted by militiamen.

A security team led by North Eastern provincial police officer Antony Kibuchi combed thickets and settlements on the Somali side in search of the two who went missing on Sunday while patrolling the Kenya-Somalia border.

“We had moved our officers towards Somalia border of Bulla Hawa and we are following crucial leads there that might eventually lead to unravel the circumstances under which the officers vanished,’’ said Mr Kibuchi by telephone from Mandera Town.

Panic yesterday gripped frontier communities following heightened security presence in the region as scores of Kenyan herdsmen who had crossed to Somalia in search of water and pasture for their livestock, streamed back for fear of being caught up in possible confrontation.

High alert

Mr Kibuchi said that extra security personnel had been sent to Mandera and Bulla Hawa to join in the search and had been placed on high alert to intercept any militiamen at the border.

On Monday, reports indicated that the regular police officers based at the Mandera divisional police headquarters, were abducted by about five heavily armed militiamen at the boundary.

On Tuesday, Mr Kibuchi held a security meeting attended by Ethiopian security officials as well as clan and militia leaders from the Somali border town of Bulla Hawa that is barely a kilometre from Mandera.

A source privy to the talks, yesterday intimated that the officers are believed to have been seized by remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts that had been battling to wrestle control of Bulla Hawa from a clan militia.

Bullet wound

Other unconfirmed reports indicated that the seized officers had been taken to Lug District of Somalia’s Gedo region.

The district is believed to be the stronghold of Al-Itihad Al Islam, the precursor to the Union of Islamic Courts that held sway in much of central and southern Somalia before they were routed in December by Ethiopian troops backing the Transitional Federal Government.