Regional analysts that are still struggling to make out of the latest development have suggested that faulty intelligence and inaccurate targeting might have led Kenyan special forces to the raided site.
By John Thiongo, firstname.lastname@example.org
NAIROBI – Last week, Kenyan commando soldiers have stormed a building housing the local offices of a Somali telecom giant in a town near the border with Somalia, thoroughly destroying it, in a mysterious raid that left local residents and authorities baffled.
The overnight raid which saw buildings razed to the ground started after soldiers have detained a local employee of the Hormuud Telecom’s area centre in Elwak, a town near the border before blowing houses up using explosives placed inside.
Meanwhile, local authorities and residents still stumped by the incident are figuring out the motive behind the raid which to their surprise had targeted business premises.
But, in recent weeks, Kenyan security forces that are struggling to contain a deadly guerilla warfare by the Somalia-based Al Shabab fighters have faced allegations ranging from harassment against locals, and attacks, mostly by airstrikes on civilian areas in Somalia.
Photos and videos taken in the aftermath of the raid showed several burnt out structure pillars standing still in the background of the ash-filled ground of what once was the company’s communications mast spot.
“They actually made sure nothing was left intact.” said a local elder in the video that has been widely circulated by local news outlets.
Despite mysteries surrounding the incident, Kenyan security forces have in the past burned down three other local offices belonging to the Somali company, something the Kenyan government has so far failed to address.
However, regional analysts that are still struggling to make out of the latest development have suggested that faulty intelligence and inaccurate targeting might have led Kenyan special forces to the raided site.
Kenyan military spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
For nearly two decades, Hormuud, Somalia’s largest telecommunication company which provides a competitive telecom services had maintained a strong business foothold across south and central Somalia including areas close to Kenya border.
In the meantime, the devastation of Hormuud’s local office and mast has parlayed communication in the area, leaving thousands out of reach, with locals have demanded an explanation from the Kenyan government on the incident.
“This is unacceptable. Kenya government must give a full explanation as to why it troops have destroyed the mast and cut off our communication system.” said Ahmed Hassan, a local elder in the town.
Officials at Hormuud were not immediately available for comment on the incident. However, analysts warned that the latest development and subsequent harassment against locals by KDF have the risks to stoke anti-Kenya sentiment in the horn of Africa nation.
“Such scenarios promise to complicate what is already shaping up as a tricky KDF presence in Somalia and further raises risks of backlash against Kenyan army.” said Jacob Moses, a Nairobi-based horn of Africa analyst.
(Additional reporting and editing by Judy Maina in Nairobi, Kenya)
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