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Kenya:Police ‘had been tipped on terror raid but did not act’
Published on 17-07-2016 - at 00:36' by Daily Nation

The officer is said to have been on a mission to rescue his friend.

Police in Kapenguria had been forewarned of an impending terrorist attack but failed to act on the intelligence, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

Highly-placed sources within the security apparatus said the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had warned that a terrorist cell in the region was planning to launch an attack, but a senior officer within the county police command did not take any action.

Local police had also been told to keep an eye on the rogue police officer who ran amok and shot dead seven of his colleagues in a gun battle at the Kapenguria police station on Thursday.

This is after the rogue officer, identified as Abdi Hakim Maslah, requested to quit the police force hardly a year after graduating from the Kiganjo Police Training College.

His request was turned down, apparently because of the fear that he would flee to join Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

These fears were confirmed after police recovered a phone from him containing a WhatsApp message declaring support for Al-Shabaab.

He also bragged that he had killed many officers and destroyed at least six vehicles during the attack. He also set free “a brother” detained at the police station on a terrorism related case.

“Now the Kaffir (non-believers) lost at least six vehicles and many of their soldiers. Also freed is a brother detained for suspected terrorism,” the message read.

West Pokot police county commander Mathew Kuto said the phone was recovered from the slain officer after he was felled by marksmen from the Ruiru-based Recce squad, who had been flown in to subdue him after an eight-hour standoff, during which he killed seven officers including the Officer Commanding Station (OCS).

(Read: Kapenguria OCS, six police officers dead in attack)

It would appear the rogue officer sent the message while holed up at the police station for hours battling the joint rescue deployment from the Quick Reaction Team and the Hostage Rescue Team.

“We are holding the phone to help us establish whether this officer was a terrorist. I cannot believe that a normal officer can shoot dead his colleagues,” Mr Kuto told the Sunday Nation.

The officer was one of five who were to be on duty on Wednesday night, but he left at 11pm without the permission of the station boss, raising questions as to why no disciplinary action was taken against him.

RESCUE MISSION
Questions are also being asked on why he was allowed to take an AK-47 rifle that had been assigned to him and which he used to kill his colleagues the next morning.

Normal procedure is that officers return their firearms to the armoury at the end of their shift.

The officer is said to have been on a mission to rescue his friend, identified as Omar Eumond, a teacher at Victoria Primary School in Kacheliba.

Before storming the police station, the rogue officer was spotted in the front yard removing fuel tank caps from cars parked there.

PHOTO GALLERY: Rogue officer kills seven in Kapenguria gun battle)

Sources within the county’s security team said the authorities at the station were aware of the close ties between the rogue cop and the suspected terrorist, raising questions as to why they went ahead to detain him at the very police station the rogue officer was based.

The Sunday Nation learnt that policeman Maslah enjoyed the protection of a senior officer within the county security command who always frustrated any effort to investigate his links with suspected terrorists.

(Read: GSU Recce officer who died in Kapenguria was newly wed)

A section of the county security team blamed the senior officer for failure to act on intelligence reports that an attack was about to be launched.

“The information was given early by the NIS but he did not take action,” noted the source.

Maslah, according to intelligence reports, was working with a cell operating from a learning institution and a security installation in the county.

When it became apparent that Maslah was overpowering duty officers at the station, an additional 50 officers were mobilised to subdue him.

A gun battle ensued and the suspected terrorist was moved from the police station and transferred to an unknown station in Nairobi.

But it took the Quick Reaction Team and the Hostage Rescue Team at Makutano Primary School until around 10am to eventually fell him from the area in the police station where he had taken cover.

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Officers spring into action at the Kapenguria Police Station after an officer went on a shooting rampage on July 14, 2016. These fears were confirmed after police recovered a phone from him containing a WhatsApp message declaring support for Al-Shabaab.

Kwamamaza
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