Unfortunately, the “Africa Rising” narrative is starting to unravel. Having lived in Africa from 2005–15, I can report that the “good news” story was too simplistic. The story of Africa nowadays is anything but. Today, we clearly see that the bumps in the road including stagnating economies, electoral violence and expanding extremist groups. Africa needs improved continued assistance at this crucial point in their development, and the next U.S. president should be there to make sure the continent reaches its true potential.

1. Improve Obama’s new African initiatives.

President Obama started a whole range of new African programs in addition to those of George W. Bush. The list is long—really long. To name a few: Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Feed the Future, the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership and the Security Governance Initiative. Some are run by the State Department, some by the Department of Defense, others by USAID or the Department of Commerce. Some work with the African Union (AU), others with the private sector.

The point I’m making is that a strong foundation for the new U.S. president to work with already exists. However, it appears that U.S. security and development engagement in Africa lacks coordination, and consists of a whole range of programs with unknown success rates. This is a complex issue, especially with different budgets controlled by different agencies. Some programs have limited personnel. There is an inability to transfer funds. Different committees have oversight. It’s a big hairy beast, and something that requires attention by the new administration, as well as the legislative branch.

These new African programs rightfully aim for the long term and, to be fair, will take time to start. However, a clearer picture has to emerge over the next few years, showing whether the programs’ goals and objectives are being met. Moreover, these ambitions should be closely aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, as well as the AU’s 2063 Agenda, where possible.

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One of the biggest challenges for all involved is finding the resources. Getting money for prevention is no easy task compared to funding a response. “Preventive work is probably the hardest” to find resources for, according to Sarah Sewall, under secretary for civilian security at the State Department. The State Department recently launched a pilot program to prevent the growth of terrorism—set to complement the ongoing U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa, both totaling around $200 million a year.

2. Continue to support the AU and African militaries with long-term capacity building, including more intelligence gathering.

Africa needs to be secure and stable for the other development initiatives to take hold. Foreign countries and media love to cast a negative light on America’s militarization of the continent, but a properly functioning and respected security sector and rule of law (military, law-enforcement and judicial) is paramount to Africa’s development. The United States assists Africa in too many ways to list. Threat Reduction in Africa (TRIA) is one such program that discusses Africa’s existing capabilities, noteworthy gaps and future plans regarding border security and other issues. TRIA specifically holds education, networking and training workshops like ones recently held in Kenya. These are often a rare opportunity for African countries to meet their domestic counterparts in other agencies, assess overall capabilities, and identify areas of mutual interest.

There are other U.S.-led regional programs, like the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, that have some overlap, as well as U.S.-assisted joint regional programs. The Global Counterterrorism Forum is an informal, multilateral platform that promotes a strategic, long-term approach to countering terrorism and violent extremist ideologies. Under this umbrella also fall the Capacity Building Working Groups for the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, each having its own regional specific objectives. Another entity is the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers, a structure of the AU Commission.

Many African nations are starting to cooperate in countering cross-border terrorist or criminal threats through sharing intelligence. Kenya’s common intelligence center in Nairobi is used for joint training on investigation skills and others. A more recent regional intelligence center, similar to Kenya’s, was established in Kampala, Uganda, which is supported by the AU and seeks to prevent possible attacks by terrorist groups. Following the May 2014 summit on terrorism, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with the help of the United States, the UK and France, set up the External Intelligence Response Unit on Terrorism to move towards increased intelligence coordination in matters of security and conflict. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, with problems like lack of trust between countries, but these entities are a vast improvement compared to the state of affairs just a few short years ago.

The United States does not currently have bilateral intelligence-sharing agreements with all African countries. Full intelligence-sharing agreements, like the U.S.-Israel cyber defense and intelligence agreement signed in June 2016, allowing intelligence information to shared automatically, are quite rare. An example of high-level U.S.-Africa cooperation is the United States and Senegal establishing the first-ever Combined/Joint Intelligence Fusion Cell in Africa and signing a Defense Cooperation Agreement, the first such pact in a decade with an African nation. Partial agreements, like the U.S.-Nigerian document in 2014 where the U.S. military would share some intelligence—including aerial imagery—with Nigeria, but not all raw U.S. intelligence, are more common.

America should continue carrying out joint training exercises and expanding its network of small bases across East, North and West Africa. The United States is an expert in signals intelligence, with operations all over the continent. These activities combined are crucial in providing intelligence and operational support. Other recommendations can be put forth to African countries, like America helping to fund a continent-wide intelligence organization, under the AU, perhaps utilizing the current ACSRT, to provide items like daily briefs to intelligence chiefs in all the African state.

3. Never forget the African perspective.Continental and regional support is important, but the United States should not forget other individual economic and political national interests. Washington can do this better by expanding its formal strategic partnerships beyond Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and the AU Commission. Increased dialogue will allow relationships to evolve into a true partnership rather than a simple donor–recipient one. A frequent criticism I heard during my ten years in Africa was America is a fair-weather friend. America causes trouble, throws money at a problem, leaves and comes back. In Africans’ mind, you just never know when it comes to Washington. Moreover, to many Africans, countering al-Shabaab, Islamic State or AQIM is a lower priority than for Americans. They are more worried about weather patterns so that their crops can grow, or if they can see a doctor to get their antiretroviral drugs.

The United States needs to respect and support the African people, not the strongman, whose time will eventually run out. This should be combined with a clearer message that America is indeed here for the long term, and that security assistance is not creating refugees, increasing militia groups and bringing more weapons into the continent, but helping create safe, stable and prosperous nations.

Dr. Scott Firsing is an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in the Department of Public and International Affairs.

Source: http://nationalinterest.org/

We should encourage more negotiated democracies across the country

mosesShitemi Khamadi

The decision by the Garre Council of Elders do bar all current elected leaders from running in the 2017 General Elections has surprised many. Never in our history has a non-political entity made such a bold step which hit national news. But it is a positive meant that will guarantee a bright future for the county.

Already some elected leaders including Senator Billow Kerrow and Women Representative Fathia Mahbub have accepted the verdict. Senator Kerrow added that this decision was arrived at in 2012. The leaders received the blessings of the largest council in the County prior to being elected but there was a rider to it. Other affected leaders are five MPs and 18 Members of the County Assembly to ensure that the 20 Garre community sub-clans have a chance at leading.

What the Council has done is to allow for healthy relationships among the various sub-clans of the county. Mandera County has not known peace for a long time. Early this month, The Electoral Risk Mapping, a map of conflicts hotspots by IEBC listed 17 counties, including Mandera as counties with high number of conflicts. The conflicts include cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist.

Devolution has birthed millionaires at the county. Earlier, only MPs would be seen with guzzling vehicles and big houses but these are now easily being noticed in local leaders at the counties like MCAs, County Executive Officers and Governors.

This creates a scenario where people feel that the only thing these leaders do is embezzle tax payers’ money. There could be hard working elected officials who honestly earn their keep, but certainly there is a slight change in their lifestyles ever since being elected.

When these positions are made possible to others through negotiated democracies, or elsewhere called rotational democracy, the people thrive. Voters will see themselves liberated because they will know that they will get fresh leaders to serve them. Communities within the society will feel part of the whole because domination by bigger ethnicities or clans will reduce.

Our electoral system is such that it is fueled by money. The IEBC has just set campaign financing limits for various candidates also depending on areas of the country. But two things still stand out. One the monies are exorbitant for anyone to make it, you have to be well oiled. Secondly, elections operate under a cash system making it difficult to monitor and report malpractices.

This scenario gifts clans and communities with large representation within their areas of jurisdiction and the wealthy. Women for instance are the most disadvantaged because too few are economically empowered. But what a rotational system allows them is to nurture their leadership ambitions because some day, their wishes will be fulfilled because the communities they live in are alive to the need for them to peacefully and progressively co-exist.

A negotiated democracy is not agreeable to all. The rich who have stolen their way to wealth will want to protect this illegally acquired gain. They would even want to bribe such institutions as council of elders to retain power. But it also fails to faithfully allow voters to elect anyone who they want. For instance, an elected leader who has diligently served the people should be rewarded by being re-elected.

What a negotiated settlement does is overlook these issues and settle on the bigger picture. It provides for a framework to ensure equal playing field, especially to those who do not have incumbency or may not be monied or from large ethnicities to guarantee them votes. But it also distances itself from tyranny of numbers which often blights servant leaders from ascending to the throne.

Switzerland has had a rotational presidency for many years and this is one of the ways it has lived peacefully and thrived. It is not a system that can work everywhere because of diverse issues that societies face. In an African setting where leaders do not like to relinquish power even when their terms have expired, rotational leadership is herculean.

It is possible that the next few years will see tremendous growth in Mandera County. Other communities or Counties may not have such powerful and instrumental institutions like Mandera but that does not mean they cannot agree on how they should be led. As an example, Mandera County is offering hope for a better, promising country.

Shitemi Khamadi is a practicing journalist. he writes on governance, economics and development in Kenya.

Transforming Mandera County’s Deadly Reputation For Maternal Health

By Siddharth Chatterjee: Representative at UNFPA Kenya


For many women in Mandera County a hard to reach, insecure and arid part of North Eastern Kenya, the story of life from childhood to adulthood is one about sheer pain and struggle for survival.

As little girls, they undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), a painful carving out of the external genitalia that leaves them with lifelong physical and psychological scars.

Most girls will be married off when barely into their teens, forcing them to drop out of school, their immature bodies thrust into the world of childbearing.

As a result, Mandera – just a two-hour flight from the dynamic, modern East African hub of Nairobi – has maternal mortality ratio of 3,795 deaths per 100,000 live births that surpasses that of wartime Sierra Leon (2000 deaths per 100,000 live births) as well as the Kenya’s national average (448 deaths per 100,000 live births).

Mandera is an example of a community marginalized combined with internecine conflicts, pockets of extremism, poor human development, cross border terrorism, which has trapped its people in poverty, misery and desperation. Cultural norms like status of the women, FGM and child marriage makes it worse. Among the poor, inequities hurt women and girls most.

However, things are looking up. Kenya’s decision to devolve government, putting much more power in the hands of local authorities, is having an impact on the ground. Indicators such as number of health facilities offering basic maternal and child health, and the number of women giving birth in a health facility are improving.

Just as critical to these improvements is the recently established private sector’s coalition to transform the health landscape of this county, long considered a lost frontier.

The goal of this coalition is to develop new products and service delivery models, like community life centers (CLC) to improve maternal and new-born health among most vulnerable populations in Kenya.

An inter-agency team consisting of the Office of the President of Kenya, Ministry of Health, Kenya Red Cross, UNOCHA, Save the Children, technology company Philips, Amref, Safaricom, GlaxoSmithKlein and UNFPA visited Mandera on 13th October 2015 with the Ambassadors of Turkey and Sweden to Kenya to launch a Ministry of Health-UNFPA-Philips Innovation partnership.

The UNFPA and Philips CLC project, is expected to bring quality primary healthcare within reach of about 25,000 population with small improvements enhance that functionality of health facilities like 24-hour lighting that will allow facility deliveries to take place and sick children attended after dark. If successful, this initiative could be scaled-up and transform maternal and child health in Mandera county.

Mandera has long remained out of bounds for most international UN staff and diplomats due to insecurity. Hopefully the visit by the Ambassadors of Turkey and Sweden, who are ardent advocates of the rights of women and children, will pave the way for more visits to all the North Eastern counties which face similar challenges.

The Ambassadors spoke of their countries’ commitment to work with the county to change the narrative, especially to advance the rights and wellbeing of all women and girls.

The broader partnership which also includes Huawei, Kenya Health Care Federation, MSD, together with the United Nations’s H4+ partners will focus on the 6 counties with a high burden of maternal mortality: Wajir, Marsaibit, Lamu, Isiolo, Migori and Mandera.

The main activities in these 6 counties will include strengthening supply chain management for health commodities, increasing availability and demand for youth-friendly health services, capacity building for health professionals, youth empowerment and research. These activities be complemented by the results based financing supported through the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund managed by the World Bank.

It is also in line with the full-scale Kenyan government commitment to reduce maternal deaths and the new polices of free maternity care and user fee removal.

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta once remarked that “I am deeply saddened by the fact that women and children in our country die from causes that can be avoided. It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “This is why I am launching the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ which will bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment to women and children in our country.

The dividend from healthier women will be a more educated and healthy society, with more economic opportunities and reduced exclusion which will engender peace and hopefully reduce the drivers of violent extremism.

It will be a major score for Mandera towards fulfilling the vision of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which is about empowerment and participation of women, ending discrimination and the scourge of harmful traditional practices like FGM and child marriage.

The launch in Mandera has shown that led by the National Government and the county authorities, the development partners and the private sector have their shoulders squared for the job at hand; clearly becoming a global force for good and makes good business sense.

Somalia hands over Shabaab leader to Kenya

“A Kenyan military source confirmed Hersi was being held at a military facility in the northeastern city of Wajir”

World Bulletin / News Desk

Somalia has handed captured Al-Shabaab intelligence chief Zakariya Ismail Hersi over to the Kenyan authorities.

“I can confirm that Hersi is not in our hands at this moment,” Ibrahim Adan, commissioner for the El Wak district, where the top militant was being held, told The Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

“He has been taken by the Kenyan army and airlifted to Kenya,” he confirmed.

Adan, who also sits on the district’s security committee, said Hersi was accompanied by some Somali army officers.

Hersi, Al-Shabaab’s intelligence chief, had been placed on Washington’s wanted list with a $3-million bounty on his head.

He was reportedly arrested from his hideout near El Wak following a tip-off to the regional authorities.

A military source in Kenya has confirmed that Hersi was being held at a military facility in the northeastern city of Wajir after being airlifted from Somalia.

It is not immediately clear whether the senior Al-Shabaab leader will be taken to capital Nairobi.

Kenya believes that an Al-Shabaab brigade responsible for much of the killing recently seen in the country is based in the Gedo region’s El Wak district

Mandera leaders in drive to restore county’s image after Al-Shabaab attacks

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow address residents at Geneva grounds in Mandera county on December 8, 2014. Leaders from the county have started an initiative dubbed Okoa Mandera which aims at restoring confidence in the troubled county. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Leaders from the troubled Mandera County have embarked on a series of meetings to restore the image of the county that has suffered several terrorist attacks in the past few months.

The leaders from political, religious and business circles have resolved to have operation Okoa Mandera to save the county from the mass exodus of civil servants that is being witnessed after the killing of non-locals and non-Muslims by the Al-Shabaab militants.

Speaking at a public baraza on Monday, Mandera County Governor Ali Roba said time had come for the people of Mandera to defend their county and the nation at large.

“Our county’s economy is under threat and we are saying time to save it is now.

“We are from today going to stop giving general information to the security agencies and give specific information so that Al-Shabaab can be dealt with.

“The terrorists have put sanctions on the people of this county because we have welcomed them and we are now asking the National Government to clean up the town,” said Mr Roba.


The governor said 20 health facilities have already been closed in the county after health workers left the facilities fearing for their lives.

Mr Roba called on the public to volunteer information to the authorities as one of the measures for improving security.

“More than 150 teachers have applied for transfers from this county because of insecurity but before schools re-open early next year we have to make corrections so that our children can learn and the sick get treated. If we don’t cooperate and fight Al-Shabaab, it is our children who will suffer the most,” said Mr Roba.

The governor condemned the attacks adding that no religion supported the killing of anyone.

“These are drug addicts who are using religion to carry out terrorist activities and we have to be vigilant enough to know who is who and when renting our houses in town it’s good to keep records of our tenants.

“We have reached our elastic limit of tolerance and we want to see youths form vigilante groups to help the police in dealing with the terrorist groups,” he said.

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said: “Let’s all join hands in fighting Al-Shabaab by giving the right information to the security agencies.

Al-Shabaab has always claimed whenever they kill people that they are helping Kenyan Muslims when the Muslims inside Somalia are more troubled than the Kenyan ones.”

Other leaders who spoke were North Eastern Regional Coordinator Ernest Munyi who said the only way to restore security was to cooperate with security agencies and embrace the Nyumba Kumi security initiative.

Mandera County Commissioner Alex Ole Nkoyo said the government is ready to act against Al-Shabaab.

Other leaders present were Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Mohamed Adan, MPs Abdulazia Farah (Mandera East), Mohamud Mohamed (Mandera West) , Banisa Mohamed Abdow and Huka (Mandera South).

Uhuru Kenyatta: Islam was a religion of peace, the President said that terrorists who claim to kill in the name of Allah are juts “deranged animals”.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday afternoon annouced that Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo had resigned.

Addressing the nation from State House following the latest attack in Mandera early Tuesday, the President also announced the nomination of Kajiado Central MP Major-General (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery as the Interior Cabinet secretary.

The fate of Joseph ole Lenku, who had been heading the docket since the Jubilee administration took over power, remains unknown.

The President said he acknowledged that there were some weaknesses in the security domain.

Addressing journalists earlier, Mr Kimaiyo said his resignation was a personal decision.

President Kenyatta also announced that he had written to the National Assembly to request that they extend their sitting to address the security issue.

“I too hurt and grief with you. In due course, our security situation will turn around,” the President said.

He reminded county governments of their responsibility to work with the national government.


SayingIslam was a religion of peace, the President said that terrorists who claim to kill in the name of Allah are juts “deranged animals”.

He said that media must become an honest broker of national discourse.

“We come to the aid of terrorists when we shout at each other,” said the President.

He extended his condolences to relatives of Kenyans who have lost lives in the recent attacks.


Earlier Tuesday, MPs had piled pressure on President Kenyatta to sack Mr Lenku and Mr Kimaiyo after the fresh terrorist attacks in Mandera and Wajir counties that led to the deaths of at least 39 people.

The legislators condemned the attacks, calling them heinous and an attempt to divide Kenyans along religious lines, adding that those tasked with protecting Kenyans had failed to do so.

Majority Leader Aden Duale led MPs in condemning the attacks at a press conference at Parliament where several legislators called for the resignation of the two government officials.

Mr Duale said the incessant attacks by Al-Shabaab militants were not different from other terrorist attacks across the world.

“There is no difference with what is happening in Syria, Nigeria and Iraq. These are acts of terrorists who are doing it in the name of Islam.

“It is not about Jubilee or Cord, it is a war against our nation. This is a war on all Kenyans regardless of their religion,” said Mr Duale who said he spoke on behalf of the Muslim MPs.


He asked Kenyans to remain united in the face of the attacks that have intensified over the last one week.

“Al-Shabaab wants to divide us along religious lines by attacking Christians. We are calling a crisis meeting as leaders from north-eastern (Kenya) to find a way to help the government deal with the situation,” added Mr Duale.

Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau said the whole institution of the police force had failed the country and should be reviewed.

“It is the institution of police that is failing us. We have security officers in Mandera. From police commanders, NIS officers, a county commissioner and yet we have such attacks? All the officers need to be checked,” added Mr Kamau.

He went on: “It is becoming untenable that terrorists are attacking this country at will. It is possible that someone within the police could be sabotaging Kenya’s security. I fail to understand how a country with well-equipped police officers fails to prevent such heinous attacks.”

Kieni MP Kanini Kega said Mr Lenku and Mr Kimaiyo were not performing their jobs as required and should be relieved of their jobs.

“These are our children who had gone to look for employment. It is not as if we do not have police, intelligence service or a functioning Kenya Defence Forces. We are saying someone is failing somewhere. This is enough,” said Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi.


After last week’s attack on a bus in Mandera, the legislators urged the President to sack the duo, but he did not heed the demand.

“It is sad that each week people are killed by terrorists. We are in a state of war. We are all uncertain about our insecurity.

“It is sad people charged with (ensuring) our security are sitting pretty, earning allowances and yet people are being killed endlessly,” said Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter.

Nairobi Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh said it was painful to see Kenyans being butchered day in day out yet those in charge of national security were still in office.

“It is becoming too painful to always see Kenyans being butchered every now and then. The President must come out this time (a)round and take stern action against those not doing their roles as required,” said Ms Shebesh.

The MPs said it was vital for Kenyans to stand united in fighting the terrorist group.

“We condemn this heinous attack. We will not allow ourselves to be divided by people who are committing crimes in the name of Islam,” said Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabir


At least 36 people were killed at a quarry at Koromey in Mandera County on Tuesday morning by Al-Shabaab militants.

All the victims were non-Muslims and most of them are said to have hailed from Chaka in Kiganjo, Nyeri County.

Some survivors have told the police that Muslims who were at the site were spared.

The victims were made to line up and most of them were shot in the head while others were beheaded.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police say the victims were attacked as they were sleeping in tents at the site at around 1am.

Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo said that they were attacked at a quarry in Koromey, about 10 km from Mandera town.

The attack happened just four hours after three men, all armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked a club in Wajir where they shot dead one person and injured 13 others.

The masked attackers raided Ngamia Club, about 800 metres from the Wajir Police Station and shot indiscriminately at the revellers. Mr Boniface Daae was shot in the back and was later pronounced dead.

Kenya police spokesperson Zipporah Mboroki said three other victims — Kevin Ojwang, Tom Gikundi and John Muchiri — were admitted to a hospital in serious condition.

After the club attack, the gunmen raided a Kenya Power sub-station but were repulsed by the officers who were guarding the area.

The attack occurred barely a day after Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi asked the public to shun tribal clashes and work with police in battling Al-Shabaab.

He said a lot of resources had already been spent on resolving clan disputes, diverting time and resources from the main insecurity problem.

He also requested the police to stop harassing local businessmen and the public regarding where they get their sugar from, instead of focusing on the fight against terrorism.

Mr Abdullahi was speaking during World AIDS Day celebrations on Monday.

State House released a statement on the Mandera and Wajir attacks Tuesday and said investigations into the two incidences had been launched

The statement by State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu indicated that a full statement would be issued later Tuesday.

“The Government sends messages of condolences to the families of those who have lost their dear ones and stands by them during this difficult time,” the statement read.

On November 22, a Nairobi-bound bus was attacked and 28 passengers were shot dead at Omar Jillo in Mandera County.

(READ: Gunmen kill 28 in morning of terror)

The victims were also shot in the head.

Al-Shabab Terrorists claims Kenya bus passenger killings


“Somali terrorist group says 28 non-Muslim passengers shot on board bus in Mandera in revenge for police raids on Mombasa mosques”.

Al-Shabab fighters from Somalia hijacked a bus in Kenya’s north and killed 28 non-Muslims on board after they had been singled out from the rest of the passengers, police officials said.

Two police officers said that the bus travelling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked 50km from the town of Mandera near Kenya’s border with Somalia.

The officers insisted on anonymity out of fear of reprisals because of an order from Kenya’s police chief that officers should not speak to the media.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the dawn bus attack in a statement on Saturday, saying the attack was revenge for raids carried out by Kenyan security forces on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa. Kenyan police said they found explosives and arrested more than 150 people in the mosque raids

“By the grace of Allah, the Mujahideen successfully carried out an operation near Mandera early this morning, which resulted in the perishing of 28 crusaders, as a revenge for the crimes committed by the Kenyan crusaders against our Muslim brethren in Mombasa,” Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for the group, said in the statement.

The interior ministry confirmed Saturday’s attack, saying via its official Twitter handle: “Security agencies are in pursuit of the criminal gang. We’ll give a comprehensive update once preliminary reports are out.”

Police said that the attackers, who were heavily-armed, fled towards the border between Kenya and Somalia, adding that a security team has been deployed to the area to capture the attackers.

A reporter for Kenya’s Standard newspaper told Al Jazeera the attack happened at 5:45am local time.

Quoting Mandera County Commissioner, journalist Boniface Mungeri said the attack was carried out by “about 100 gunmen who commandeered” the bus and forced the passengers out.

Passengers separated

Mungeri said the passengers were separated into groups according to their religion. Non-Muslims, the reporter said, were executed and Muslims were freed. The assailants attempted to take the bus but it got stuck in mud on the unpaved road.

Among those killed were two security officers and teachers who were travelling to their home towns on holiday, said the reporter.

Mandera County Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba said on Twitter: “The inhumane butchering of innocent Kenyans by terrorist must get [a] very firm response from our national security team.”

Kenyan authorities have blamed the Somali armed group al-Shabab for a wave of deadly attacks across the East African nation. Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 after raids on its coastal towns blamed on al-Shabab and has since seen a surge in lethal attacks.

Al-Shabab has also been blamed for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which killed 77 people.

Somali government troops backed by AU forces are making progress in capturing the remaining al-Shabab strongholds, but the group has continued to carry out attacks in Somalia and the East Africa region.

Recently, they captured the port town of Barawe.

Al-Shabab was also dealt a heavy blow following the death of their leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in early September in a US airstrike.

Godane has been replaced by Ahmed Omar, also known as Abu Ubeid.