By Cyrus Ombati
A top Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) official was captured on Sunday at the Kenyan-Somalia border after he surrendered to the authorities.
Officials said Sheikh Sharrif Ahmed was arrested at 7 am when he surrendered to military personnel at the Hulugo border.
He was flown to Nairobi under tight security where intelligence and other security officials started to interrogate him.
The officials at the border said they had information that the UIC official was near the Kenyan side while fleeing the bombardments from the Ethiopian troops.
Police said Sharrif is one of the leading UIC officials they had been waiting for and has crucial information.
"He should be in Nairobi now. We had been waiting for him at the border after being informed that he was near here," said a senior official.
Sharrif surrendered a day after 30 of his supporters were deported to Mogadishu. The suspects were loaded onto a plane on Saturday and sent away. His arrest also came days after 30 of his members were arrested at the border.
The 30 fighters were nabbed on Wednesday after arriving from Jilbi area in Somalia on donkeys. Among those being held at the Hulugo hospital is Siad Adan, 19 who officials said was a close confidant of UIC leader Maalim Adan Harow.
Adan had fresh bullet injuries to the head, which he told interrogators he sustained 15 days ago during a gun battle with the Ethiopian troops.
The arrests were made after police were informed that the UIC supporters had arrived on donkeys and sought refugee in a manyatta within the Kenyan territory.
Sharrif was not injured at the time he surrendered, according to those who saw him on Sunday.
Police are holding over 100 members and supporters of the union. Others are close to 50 Kenyan youths who had allegedly been recruited to Somalia to fight for the disposed union.
They were intercepted as they returned to the Kenyan side escaping bombardments from the Ethiopian troops backed by the military officials of the Transitional Federal Government.
Security at the border has been intensified since it was shut early this month.
Soldiers, police and Kenya Wildlife Service personnel are patrolling the border.
Some of those arrested at the Liboi, Hulgo and Kiunga boarders have been brought to Nairobi for further interrogation.
Police have since set up three new police posts at the Coast to help in beefing up security in the region. The posts will remain operational even after the military withdraw from the region
It is not clear if among those deported was the wife of Fazullah Mohammed, the man believed to be behind the 1998 bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam and the wife of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, also wanted by the FBI.
Others are four children and four other men whom police said have been on their list of wanted persons.
Mrs Badroundine Halima Fazul Husseine and her three children aged 4, 13 and 15 years were arrested at the border while fleeing bombardments from the Ethiopian troops.