A head teacher from a local primary school led the al Shabaab militants in the bus attack that killed 11 passengers in Wajir, police have said.
Police say Mohammed Hussein Hassan, has since escaped to Somalia after the government deployed a team to comb Wajir for the militants.
Eight police officers from the Anti Theft Stock Unit and three civilians were killed after the militants separated non-locals from the 56 passengers in the Mandera-bound Medina Bus.
“He had been tipped that the bus was ferrying police officers back to their stations,” a detective who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Star on Monday.
The revelations lend credence to reports there might have been passengers in the bus who collaborated with the militants.
The teacher led a team of over 15 militants during the attack which has raised questions on the security of officers working in terror-prone areas.
Intelligence reports indicate that some of the militants had sneaked into the country in late November and were harboured by the head teacher.
On Sunday, North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik said 11 suspects had been arrested.
“We think there is local participation. This is not the first time local youths who have been recruited in the last four years have participated in such crimes,” he said.
Some of the 11 are the driver and the conductor of the bus.
Yesterday, a detective said that the teacher’s wife was among those arrested and is being interrogated.
“We are therefore taking action against individual families and persons whom we think had been hosting them (militants),” Birik said.
It also emerged that the officers’ lives could have been saved if they had used police a Land Cruiser since there was enough fuel at Elraham to transport them to and from pass leave.
The officers had instead been asked to contribute cash to fuel a Land Cruiser by their seniors but refused and opted for the bus.
On Saturday, spies and troops began an operation in Tarbaj and Katulo areas.
In a statement read by State House spokesperson Kanze Dena on Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the militants of dire consequences.
“No effort will be spared in neutralising the threat,” Uhuru said.
Despite statements and condolence messages, attacks on non-locals have claimed many lives in attacks in North-Eastern region.
Dozens of non-local quarry workers and teachers have been killed by al Shabaab in the past.
In a statement, al Shabaab said, “This attack is yet another message to the Kenyan government that their crusade citizens will never relish in safety as long it continues to occupy Muslim lands, plunder its resources and occupy its lands.”
The government is yet to issue a comprehensive follow up statement since the attack.