NAIROBI (HAN) January 5, 2016 – Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. Kenyan police arrested a suspected al Shabaab fighter in Mombasa on Tuesday and recovered weapons that had been intended for use in aborted New Year’s Eve attacks on the coastal city, a senior government official said.
Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa told a news conference that four other suspects had escaped the raid, including two militants from the Somali-based Islamist group wanted for major attacks on Kenya since 2013.
“These men are behind major plots for attacks in the country and are linked to the Garissa University and Lamu attacks,” Marwa said. “They had planned to attack public beaches in Mombasa during the New Year when there were many people, but they were deterred by the level of security we had mounted there.”
Al Shabaab killed 148 students in the attack on Garissa University last April. In June 2014, the group killed 65 people over a 24-hour period in and around Mpeketoni in Lamu county, also in Kenya’s east. It was also responsible for a raid on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in 2013 that killed 67 people. Kenyan authorities have circulated pictures of suspected al Shabaab militants and offered a 2 million shilling ($19,569.47) reward for information leading to arrests.
Al Shabaab seeks to overthrow the Western-backed Somali government and impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law. It has frequently attacked neighbouring Kenya in recent years, saying it is retaliating for Kenya’s participation in an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Marwa said the weapons seized on Tuesday included a Colt M4 rifle which had the same serial number as one stolen from a military base in Mombasa during an attack in early 2015.
Police also recovered a G3 rifle, 345 bullets, a hand grenade, explosive detonator switches, passports, driving licences, bank documents and cash during the early morning raid. “The man we arrested is … giving us vital information that will be useful in combating terrorism especially in Mombasa. We are going to arrest many more,” Marwa said.