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Defence Minister admits ‘security lapses’ lead to terror attack

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Pathankot: Security lapses led to the IAF Base terror attack due to which seven security personnel and six terrorists died, admitted Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar  on Tuesday.

Parrikar also told the media after visiting the base that combing operations were still going on but “this is only for safety purposes” and that no more terrorists were believed hidden in the huge complex.

Some gaps led to security lapses, leading to the pre-dawn terror attack on Saturday, the minister said. He did not elaborate.

“What is worrying is how they (terrorists) entered the base,” he added.

Parrikar visited the Pathankot Indian Air Force base in Punjab on Tuesday along with the chiefs of the army and air force.

The head of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the audacious terrorist strike, also visited the base separately.

“Combing operations are (still) going on,” Parrikar said. “This is only for safety purposes.”

He said the body of one of the terrorists still had a suicide vest, with a grenade sticking out.

“I am very, very clear that they (our officers) should not take any risk,” he said, recalling how a National Security Guard (NSG) officer lost his life earlier while trying to reportedly shift a similar body.

Parrikar admitted that the entire operation “is a very difficult” one.

“It is tedious. This has been done without compromising any assets… Not just the strategic assets but even a building.”

He said barring one building where the terrorists took shelter, no other building was even damaged because the security personnel managed to corner the raiders in a corner of the sprawling base.

He said the terrorists had AK-47 rifles, pistols, Swiss knives, commando knives besides 40-50 kg of bullets. They also had improvised mortars. “They had high-quality explosives.”

The minister said the NIA had started an investigation into the attack. He said it would find out “who sent them”.

“They have got initial leads, where they have come from, how they have come.”(IANS)

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US Institute of Peace Trains Kenyan Women to Help Fight Terrorist Radicalization Campaigns

The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects

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FILE - Kenyans walk past closed shops in the capital after an attack on a hotel complex, claimed by al-Shabab, in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Institute of Peace is training Kenyan women from 20 organizations to help fight terrorist radicalization campaigns. The program comes as Kenya struggles to halt the recruitment efforts of Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. The organization includes at least 20 women’s groups from Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa, all of which have seen deadly terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Sureya Hirsi, a member of the sisters’ group from Mombasa, attended the conference in Nairobi. She says it is time for women to take an active role in the fight against terrorism.

kenya, terrorism, terrorist
Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants. Pixabay

“The reason I joined this sisters group, it’s because I have been affected, I have family members, people whom I know, I know youths who have been recruited, and this is happening because as a community we don’t speak up about these issues. As a woman who is lucky and also educated, I have decided to be on the frontline to help my community so that we can speak about these issues that affect our community.”

Nicoletta Barbera, a program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says women can play a key role in preventing young people from going down the terrorist path.

“The women that we work with, the sisters without borders are integrated within their communities, they live, work, and serve. They are very aware of the threats that are in their homes, in their markets, in their communities. We enable them to identify those potential individuals who are prone in engaging in violent extremism and give them the skills to try to mitigate them at the very beginning when they see those initial signs of radicalization,” Barbera said.

kenya, terrorism, terrorist
The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. Pixabay

Kenya National Counterterrorism Center Director Martin Kimani says that kind of ground-level activism is exactly what the country needs.

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“We in the security services are hunting and looking for recruiters to put them behind bars where they belong. But radicalization continues to be a problem.  That problem is going to need for the county level actions to get radicalization, to where, for example, Kenya got HIV/AIDS where everybody could speak about it, everybody knows what it is and everybody know their role in how to stop it and protect it each other from getting into that kind of life,” Kimani said.

Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants. Al-Shabab has been responsible for several major terrorist attacks, the worst coming in 2015, when al-Shabab fighters stormed Garissa University College, killing nearly 150 people. (VOA)