Security agencies are looking for three people they allege played roles in recruiting 13 youths from Kilifi and Lamu counties into Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) says it rescued the youths in Ras Kamboni in Somalia, apparently stranded on the international border, and flew them to Malindi on Sunday.
The unidentified youths, all males aged between 18 and 34 years, were rescued after their parents filed reports with the police that their children had been lured into the terror group while looking for jobs.
The youths were received by Malindi OCPD Matawa Muchangi at the Malindi International Airport on Monday afternoon.
Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika was yesterday in Malindi to reunite the youths with their families and said two of the suspects were residents of Kilifi and Lamu. Details of the third suspect are still unknown.
“One of the suspects is from Marereni and trades in fish, and it is said that he gave the youths Sh5,000 each with a promise of a better paying job in Kiunga,” said Mr Mutindika.
He added that collaboration between KDF and their Somalia counterparts resulted in the youths' rescue while they were in transit to Somalia.
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“They took a boat from Malindi and were meant to continue with their journey by road once in Kiunga but the KDF and Somalia forces rescued them in Ras Kamboni,” he said.
Parents and guardians who had come to be reunited with their sons identified the man said to have lured their children as a renowned fishmonger in Marereni.
“My older brother who is a fisherman had travelled with me to Kiunga to catch crabs only to receive a phone call from our brother saying he was suffering in Somalia,” said Mr Saida Ngala at the police station.
Rose Kiraga, a resident of Marereni, who was filled with joy on seeing her son alive, said the suspect was once arrested after residents launched complaints that their sons were being taken to Somalia without their knowledge, but later released.
A senior security officer on Monday told journalists that KDF had managed to rescue more than 1,100 youths since 2011.
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