Kenyan security forces yesterday scoured border regions with war-torn Somalia in the hunt for armed kidnappers who seized four aid workers from Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.
The two men and two women who work with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), come from Canada, Norway, Pakistan and the Philippines. A Kenyan driver was killed and two others were wounded during Friday’s attack.
“The search is intensifying and more security forces have been sent to make every effort possible, but so far, no one has been recovered,” Kenyan army spokesman Cyrus Oguna said.
Aerial searches were ongoing using both military helicopters and aircraft, while vehicles and troops on foot searched the remote scrubland either side of the porous border with Somalia.
Kenya, which invaded southern Somalia in October last year to attack the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents, has troops about 120km deep into -Somalia, though the forces control only pockets of the vast territory.
Despite fears the gunmen and their hostages would head for Somalia — about 100km from Dadaab — Oguna said he was still hopeful they remained inside Kenya.
“We are thinking that they are in Kenya, we are making every effort that we can and we are hopeful of a positive outcome,” he added.
The aid workers’ vehicle, which the gunmen stole after killing the driver, was found abandoned a few hours after the attack.
The NRC is working to support about 465,000 inhabitants in the Dadaab complex, which constitutes Kenya’s third-biggest town in terms of population.
The kidnapping is the latest in a series of attacks in Dadaab, where gunmen in October last year seized two Spaniards working for Doctors Without Borders. They are still being held hostage in Somalia.
The kidnapping of the Spaniards was one of the incidents that spurred Kenya to send troops and tanks into Somalia to fight the al-Shabaab insurgents Nairobi blames for abductions and for cross-border raids.