Kenya said on Wednesday that it was postponing the reopening of its border with Somalia after recent attacks on its soil attributed to radical Islamist Shebab.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki announced that the gradual reopening of the Mandera, Lamu and Garissa border crossings would not take place as announced in May 2023.
The decision comes after five civilians and eight police officers were killed in separate incidents near the border last month blamed on the al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab group.
“The government will postpone the scheduled reopening of border points between Kenya and Somalia until we conclusively address the recent spate of terrorist attacks and cross-border crimes,” said Mr. Kindiki during a visit to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya’s Far East, near Somalia.
The border was officially closed in October 2011 due to attacks by the Shebab, who have been waging an insurgency against the federal government in Mogadishu for over 15 years.
The two countries had announced in July 2022 their intention to reopen the border during talks between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, but this never materialized. But on May 15, following a high-level ministerial meeting in Nairobi, officials from both countries agreed to the gradual reopening of three border crossings.
Mandera was due to reopen within 30 days of the announcement, followed by Garissa within 60 days and Lamu within 90 days. But on June 13, eight Kenyan policemen were killed in Garissa when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. On June 24, five civilians had their throats slit in an attack claimed by the Shebab in Lamu near the Somali border; some were decapitated.