Kenyan unions protest, urge workers to flee restive northeast

File: Kenya Union members are marching outside President Uhuru Kenyatta's office in Nairobi calling on him to sack security bosses after another attack in northeastern Kenya at the weekend in which 28 people were killed.

NAIROBI - Thousands of Kenyan civil servants, teachers and medics have been warned by their unions to leave troubled northeastern regions hit by a wave of insurgent attacks, reports said Tuesday.

The call follows attacks over the weekend, claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab insurgent group, in which 28 non-Muslims were executed on a bus near the northeastern town of Mandera.

Of those killed, 24 were teachers and three were medics, the Daily Nation reported.

Six unions -- including those representing doctors, dentists, civil servants and primary and secondary school teachers -- have advised members to leave until security forces can ensure their safety.

The call to leave areas, including the main towns of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera, includes over 10,00 teachers and 16,500 civil servants.

"Their lives are clearly in danger," Kenya Union of Teachers leader Wilson Sossion said, according to the Nation. "We have already lost enough members of the teaching force and can't risk any further."

Union of Civil Servants chief Tom Odege said the government had a duty to protect its citizens, and that "when workers are targeted it is an insult to the government."

Professionals working in the largely Muslim and ethnic Somali northeastern regions often come from further south in Kenya, where Christians make up some 80 percent of the population.

Kenya has suffered a series of attacks since invading Somalia in 2011 to attack the Shabaab, later joining an African Union force battling the insurgents.

Al-Shabaab said the bus attack was carried out in revenge for police raids on mosques in Kenya's key port of Mombasa.

"We are concerned that very little is being done to improve the security of our members," said Abidan Mwachi from the doctors and dentist union.

But Kenya's newspapers warned the call to leave would damage the region.

The Standard's editorial warning the "call could trigger a mass exodus of civil servants from the areas", while also admitting that "no job is worth dying for."

The Nation warned the already troubled and impoverished northeast would face a "serious health, public service and education crisis."

Hundreds have marched through the capital Nairobi on Tuesday in a demonstration calling for reinforced security measures and the sacking of top security officials.


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