[…] “The government thinks the community is supporting al-Shabab,” Otsieno Namwaya, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, told The New Humanitarian. “But the truth is most people are just scared of the government: some feel frustrated that the government has not exactly supported them.”
At its most extreme, suspicion of a connection to the insurgents can be a death sentence. A 2016 report by Human Rights Watch documented 34 cases of disappearances and 11 deaths of people who were last seen in police custody or at a military barracks – and those killings have continued, said Namwaya.
The police and army routinely deny they are involved, but the local community “has deplored the violence of the security forces for years”, said Meron Elias, a Horn of Africa researcher at the International Crisis Group.
The experience of Abdi’s widow, Dubow, reflects the pressure. “My husband was killed by al-Shabab; my brother-in-law was killed by the security forces,” she told TNH. “We are caught up between these people. Who will help us? I don’t know where to turn.” […]
„Civilians in Kenya’s northeast targeted by both jihadists and the state“