By: VOA NEWS
WAJIR, KENYA — Kenya has announced plans to re-open its Mandera border crossing with Somalia as part of efforts to improve border security and crack down on smuggled goods.
Kenya says plans to re-open the Mandera border post with Somalia are nearing conclusion, after high-level consultations between the two countries.
Speaking after a visit to the town of Mandera, Kenya’s Internal Security Minister Kithure Kindiki said reopening the crossing point will improve border security and stem the tide of smuggled goods used to fund terrorist activities.
“I have directed the county security teams to sit down with the agencies of government that are represented here, including customs, immigrations, and asses the requirements and provide information within one week to enable us to renovate the border post and re-start our border,” said Kindiki.
Kenya closed all of its official border crossings with Somalia in 2012 in a bid to stop incursions by al-Shabab insurgents operating from the Somali side. The border points closed included the Mandera crossing, as well as those in Lamu, Wajir and Garissa.
The shutdowns have not stopped people from crossing the border illegally or smuggling goods.
Kindiki tasked the county security team with identifying armed militants operating in the border region.
“I therefore direct the county security team to sit down with the political leaders and the elders in a plan that will be guided by the community leaders and elders, so as to flush-out armed militants from Mandera and Northeastern,” said Kindiki.
Kindiki addressed elected leaders and community elders Friday during a security tour in Mandera and Wajir counties, and he reiterated the need for elders to partake in security operations.
In the last five years, Kenya’s northeast has experienced a long series of attacks by al-Shabab fighters.
In the deadliest attack, the Islamist militant group killed nearly 150 people at Garissa University College in 2015.
Somalia-based al-Shabab has been active in Kenya since 2011, when Kenya first contributed troops to the African Union-led peacekeeping mission in Somalia.