A man believed to be behind the 2014 terrorist attacks in Mandera that left 64 people dead has been arrested.
The man, who was arrested in Mandera Town on Thursday, is also believed to be a member of Al-Shabaab militant group.
Following the arrest, security was beefed up in Mandera Town.
Local schools have borne the effects of the attacks, after teachers from outside the county refused to resume duty in January, citing security fears.
The suspect, Salim Abubakar Kitonga, is a Kenyan by birth and police said he was actively involved in Al-Shabaab operations in Mandera County.
Mandera Police Commander Job Boronjo said the suspect was cooperating well with the police and that other wanted Al-Shabaab sympathisers and sponsors would soon be arrested and arraigned in court.
“This man Salim is a Kenyan and he has been on our list for long, as reports indicate he is behind the recruitment of Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians into Al-Shabaab group based in Somalia,” said Mr Boronjo.
LINKED TO THE ATTACKS
He added that Kitonga had been facilitating the movement of new non-Somali recruits into Somalia through Bula Hawa and that he had been living at a mosque in Mandera Town that he refused to disclose.
“There is enough information that he planned the two attacks that left 64 people dead late last year, but he is with us for further interrogations before he is taken to court,” said Mr Boronjo.
A source within the police who took part in arresting the suspect told the Nation that documents found on him indicated that he was from Vihiga County.
His national identification card showed he is from Sabatia Division, Chavakali Location, Walodeya Sub-Location.
“He has told the officers that his father is a Kamba while his mother is a Luhya and that he can speak the two languages fluently, which has helped him get more young men from these two communities into Al-Shabaab,” said the police source.
A number of youths from different countries in East Africa have been arrested by the security agencies along the Kenya-Somalia border as they tried to cross over into Somalia, with most admitting to being on a mission to join Al-Shabaab.
On May 6, 2014, Mubarak Omar Ramadhan, a Tanzanian national and a teacher by profession, was arrested as he tried to sneak into Somalia through the Bula Hawa border point and admitted to being a member of Al-Shabaab and that he was being assisted by a certain Kenyan to achieve his goal.
Mandera Senior Principal Magistrate Charles Soi Mutai set him free because of lack of enough evidence to prove the charges against him.
He was, however, found guilty of being in the country illegally and jailed for eight months.
Omar was deported to Tanzania after finishing his eight-month jail term at the Mandera GK Prison.
Another magistrate at the same court freed Ugandans Ssempagama Abdulah and William Mukwaya, who were charged after they were found trying to cross over into Somalia on April 25, 2014 through the Mandera border point.
They had not reported their departure to the immigration offices as required by law.