Kenya: How Escaped Al-Shabaab Militants were Recaptured

Kenya: How Escaped Al-Shabaab Militants were Recaptured
  • Earlier, security agencies in Kitui were on red alert after locals reported that they had spotted seen the three fugitive terrorists.
  • Kitui County police commander Leah Kithei on Thursday morning confirmed that all security agencies in the region, including chiefs and their assistants, had been activated.

The three terror convicts, who escaped from the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison over the weekend, were on Thursday arrested in a remote village in Kitui County, about 180 kilometres east of Nairobi..

Police said the trio was fleeing towards Boni Forest which borders Somalia.

The terrorists were cornered by security agents hours after residents reported seeing them in Malalani market in Endau location, some 100 kilometres East of Kitui town, where they bought milk, bottled water and biscuits.

Panic gripped the sleepy shopping centre as shopkeepers, who wanted to arrest the fugitives and cash in on the Ksh60 million (about $530,000) bounty on their heads, feared that the terrorists were armed.

Malalani borders the Mwingi Game Reserve to the north and South Kitui Game Reserve to the south and has for long been a hideout for terror suspects.

The trio was hiding during the day and trekked under the cover of darkness to avoid being caught.

After the locals informed the police, a massive manhunt was immediately launched with all security agencies in the region including chiefs and their assistants put on high alert to comb the villages and prevent the terrorists from escaping away to hideouts outside the country.

Security sources confided to the Nation that the entire was county was surrounded by officers drawn from the anti-terror police unit, backed up by personnel from the anti-stock theft unit.

Kitui County Police Commander Leah Kithei said the three were arrested in Mwingemi area as they tried to find their way to the Mwingi-Garissa highway.

Residents said the three, who looked exhausted and thirsty, bought a lot of milk, bottled water, bread and biscuits from local shops and paid by cash.

Raised suspicions

But they raised suspicions when they asked for directions to Boni Forest in Lamu County. The forest at the Kenya-Somalia border is a known hideout of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group.

One of the escapees had swollen legs and was limping, a local said.

“They appeared confused and lost, unaware of the geography around them. They were asking how they can connect to the Garissa or Tana River counties from the area,” said a trader at the market who spoke to Nation on condition that he’s not named for security reasons.

The terrorists, Musharraf Abdalla Akhulunga alias Zarkarawi, Mohammed Ali Abikar and Joseph Juma Odhiambo alias Yusuf escaped from the country's most guarded prison on Sunday.

A Ksh60 million bounty was placed on their heads for information leading to their arrest.

Musharaf was arrested on September 30, 2012, over his role in a foiled terror attack targeting Parliament Buildings.

He was charged with possession of explosives, ammunition and firearms. He hails from Ekero area in Mumias, Kakamega County.

Mohamed, an Islamist militant who was arrested following his involvement in April 2, 2015, Garissa University attack, was serving a 41-year sentence.

He had been convicted alongside Hassan Edin Hassan and Tanzania’s Rashid Charles Mberesero, who was sentenced to life but committed suicide in November last year inside Kamiti.