Why Al-Shabaab attacks increased in Kenya

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NAIROBI, Kenya - For the first time since 2019, Al-Shabaab attacks increased in Kenya in 2023, leading to a serious security overhaul under the leadership of President William Ruto and Prof. Kithure Kindiki, the minister for interior and national administration.

A report dubbed 2024 Terrorism Global Index, which was published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, attributes the surge in the attacks to changes of security chiefs within the terror-prone areas. Top security organs were reorganized.

The al-Shabaab, the report says, took advantage of changes in the security chain of command. The far-reaching changes were effected in 2023, when many changes were authorized, including bringing Noordin Haji as the Director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Major changes were also made to the country's regional security teams with several deputy county commissioners being reshuffled in June 2023. The changes triggered Al-Shabaab attacks, including by changing the strategy.

"Al-Shabaab was responsible for 70 deaths in Kenya in 2023, the most since 2019. Government-led counterterrorism operations in Somalia have led to a surge of Al-Shabaab militants crossing into Kenya, compounded by a lack of law enforcement personnel along the border.

"Changes to Kenya's security leadership have exacerbated the situation, leading to a security gap that militants are exploiting to conduct attacks," read the report in part.

On the other hand, it was highlighted that most of the terror attacks were being witnessed in areas near the Kenya-Somalia border. The placement of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) on various roads was also noted to be one of the strategies that the terrorists employed during the attacks.

"In Kenya, terrorism deaths attributed to Al-Shabaab increased from 58 to 70 deaths in 2023. Most Al-Shabaab deaths in Kenya
in 2023 occurred in the Lamu district close to the Somali border which recorded 26 deaths in 2023, ten more than the year prior. This was followed by Garissa and Mandera counties, which collectively recorded 37 deaths.

"Both of the deadliest Al-Shabaab attacks in Kenya in 2023 involved roadside bombings, one targeting soldiers in Lamu and the other targeting police in Garissa. Ten people were killed in each attack. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for both attacks," read the report in part.

But in recent weeks, the terror incidents have diminished, following increased surveillance and sharing of intelligence by locals. Locals have played an important role in fighting the militants following collaboration by security agencies after a series of sensitization meetings.

GAROWE ONLINE

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