Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale on Tuesday held a crisis meeting with some leaders from Wajir and Mandera Counties to discuss the security status in the region.
The meeting held at the Defence headquarters, Nairobi, was attended by five MPs from the two counties to discuss a joint approach in fighting terrorism.
There are concerns that the increasing rate of terrorism in the area has derailed development with little action from residents to tame the trend.
Duale maintained that security is a collective responsibility that demands concerted efforts from security agencies, local leaders, and the community.
He underscored that the safety of the region is as important as that of any other part of the country, adding that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) continue to pose a serious threat to security
The CS said Kenya Defence Forces shall continue discharging their primary mandate of defending and protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic and called upon the leaders to contribute to security approaches by sharing intelligence.
He noted that many youths from the region have been recruited into criminal gangs and terror groups out of frustration and lack of job opportunities but added that the plan to reopen borders shall increase economic activities.
“There’s an ongoing conversation to re-open the borders at Mandera to enable cross-border trade with neighbouring countries. This shall keep the locals, especially the youths busy and unavailable to join terror groups thus, we need your indulgence to ensure that even when the borders reopen, we scale up the security in the area,” the CS said.
In addition, women and religious leaders will also be incorporated to contribute to resilient peace and security measures.
Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF) Lt Gen Francis Ogolla said that cooperation with local leaders shall yield results.
Mandera South MP Abdul Haro urged the military to scale up the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities among them sinking boreholes, building classes and medical outreach to continue endearing themselves with the community.
He added that the community shall continue reporting suspicious visitors to their regions to ensure that the people are screened by security agencies.
Terror-related attacks have affected the education sector, forcing tens of teachers who are non-locals to leave.
Other professionals also escaped amid mounted security operations.
The border region has borne the brunt of repeated attacks from the militants who are at times aided by locals. Somalia has not had a stable government after the fall of Siad Barre in 1991.
Somalia’s al Shabaab terrorists have been attacking places near the Kenya-Somalia border, especially in Mandera and Garissa counties after breaching security zones, which left dozens of civilians and security officials dead and wounded.
The terrorists have been planting explosives on the routes used by the security agencies.
Kenyan troops are in Somalia to pursue and suppress the activities of the terror group.
Present during the meeting were Principal Secretary Mr Patrick Mariru, Assistant Chief of Defence Forces in charge of Operations Doctrine and Training (ACDF OPD&T) Maj Gen Fredrick Leuria and other senior military officers.
Other MPs present include Hussein Weitan (Mandera East), Mohamed Abdirahman (Lafey), Hussein Barre (Tarbaj), and Adan Daud (Wajir East).