Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Traders Shot Dead By Somali Bandits

Three people were killed and two others seriously injured when armed Somali militiamen opened fire on their lorry yesterday.

The militiamen in the Somali town of Dobley sprayed bullets on a Kenyan lorry ferrying goods from Liboi Town in Kenya to Somalia, after it defied orders to stop at a road block they were manning, said Garissa District police chief Richard Ngatia.

Trouble started when the lorry attempted to drive through the barrier after the businessmen disagreed with the militiamen on how much money to pay them. The businessmen complained that roadblocks that had mushroomed on the Somali side of the border, were adversely affecting their business, said Mr Ngatia.

The lorry drove back to Liboi, with the militiamen in hot pursuit, but they abandoned their mission shortly before Haraharka, manned by Kenyan security forces.

A Kenyan who sustained several gunshot wounds during the thirty minutes shooting has been moved to Garissa Provincial general hospital in critical condition, said the police boss. Reports of the shooting caused many travellers to abandon the busy Dobley-Liboi route, in favour of other roads, to escape the bandits who threatened to paralyse operations unless Kenyan traders met their demands to pay hefty charges at the barriers.

Initial reports indicated that Somali traders had hired militias to disrupt border business, said Mr Ngatia, adding that relations between businessmen from the two countries have been tense in recent months, following accusations that the Kenyans have unfairly dominated the lucrative cross-border business.

However, Kenyan businessmen counter the allegations, saying unscrupulous Somali traders have formed a smuggling ring with their relatives living in refugee camps in Garissa District and were importing goods without paying revenue to custom officials at the border.

Hagaldera Ifo and Dagahaley refugee camps in the district had become havens for smugglers, with all the goods sold at the camps being imported from Kismayu free port in Somalia. Security would be increased on the border, following threats by the militias, so that normal business can resume for the communities living on the frontier, whose sole source of income is trade.

He also said the allegations of smuggling would be investigated. The shooting comes barely a week after six Kenyan traders were killed and 10 seriously injured when their mini bus exploded in a land mine at the border.

Source: Daily Nation, Oct. 24, 2005

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