Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wajir community policing committee member gunned down in home

By Bosire Boniface in Garissa

November 15, 2012

Police in Kenya's North Eastern Province are investigating Wednesday's (November 14th) assassination of a senior member of Wajir's community policing committee.
  • Issa Aalim, not pictured, helped police uncover a weapons cache at Ahmed Liban Cemetery in October. [Bosire Boniface/Sabahi] Issa Aalim, not pictured, helped police uncover a weapons cache at Ahmed Liban Cemetery in October. [Bosire Boniface/Sabahi]
Unidentified gunmen shot Issa Aalim, 40, inside his home in Halane neighbourhood around 7 pm before fleeing the scene, Wajir police chief James Mutungi told Sabahi.
"Aalim was shot twice in the head and once in the chest," Mutungi said. "He died on the spot."
"We are not ruling out al-Shabaab militants or sympathisers in the killing because the deceased played a very crucial role in the fight against extremism in the district," he said. "At the same time, we are not ruling out other motives."
Wajir County Commissioner Naftali Mungathia said Aalim was a member of the Wajir Community Policing Committee that helps officials tackle security issues in town.
"He was a very important representative of the community on security issues," Mungathia told Sabahi. "He was committed to the fight against crime including the discovery of cache deadly weapons buried at the Ahmed Liban Cemetery on October 4th."
While the killing has sparked fear among other members of the committee, Ali Billow Hassan, a 42-year-old member of the committee, said they will not relent in helping police combat extremism in Wajir district.
"It is a big loss because the general public had faith in sharing information with him," Hassan told Sabahi. "We are terrified but we will continue the work."
"We will not sleep. We will be alert to flush out criminal elements among us," he said. "We are emboldened, but we want our security guaranteed because it is a sensitive voluntary undertaking."
Aalim's wife, Ebla Hillow, said when three young men walked into their compound Wednesday evening, she did not suspect anything unusual.
"My husband often receives visitors and I thought they were usual visitors wanting to share information with my husband or having an evening chat," she told Sabahi.
"Before long, I heard shots as I was preparing a meal in the kitchen," she said.
But by the time neighbours came after hearing the gunshots and her scream, the gunmen had fled.
Faizal Muhumed Abdi, a neighbour, said the shooting took him by surprise.
"When I heard the first gunshot it took time to figure out what was happening because such shootings have not happened in more than two decades in the town," Abdi told Sabahi.
"I was shocked to learn that the gunshots were coming from my neighbour," he said. "When I rushed there I found the deceased lying down bleeding profusely. The neighbourhood is saddened."
This is the first time a member of the community policing team has been killed since it was re-launched a year ago following a spate of terrorist attacks in the area blamed on al-Qaeda-allied militants.
While condoling with the family of the deceased, Minister of State for Development in Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands Mohamed Elmi told Sabahi that the incident should further unite the community against criminal elements.
"Be it normal criminals or al-Shabaab affiliates, those who killed him have proved that they do not value human life and the community should continue the fight in bringing criminals to face the law," Elmi said.

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