Lamu village on lockdown as security forces hunt for al Shabaab



Residents of Ras Kamboni village on the Lamu-Somalia border were on Saturday held temporarily under house curfew as security units led by the Kenya Defense Forces combed the area in search of suspected al Shabaab militants.

The security agencies had received intelligence that the terrorists had arrived in the area and were planning attacks in the region.

The villagers’ movements were limited as they were instructed not to wander far from their homes lest they were caught up in the operation.

The massive crackdown is also believed to have been largely precipitated by the recent IED terror attacks in the border area of Kiunga, Ishakani and others in the last couple of weeks.

Both areas all fall under those mapped under the Linda Boni security operation.

The operation was launched in 2015 to flush out Al Shabaab militants believed to be holed up inside the Boni forest from where they have been launching attacks on various parts of Lamu and neighbouring counties.

Locals said they were locked in their houses for the better part of Saturday with many reporting hearing gunshots and explosions around their village indicative of fiery fire exchange.

They were also barred from using the Ishakani-Ras Kamboni route so as to allow the security units to ward off the terrorists.

“We stayed indoors for almost the entire day. They didn’t force us but made us understand that it was a security crackdown on suspected al Shabaab militants. We could hear loud gunshots and explosions. They were very close to our village,” Ahmed Islam said.

Residents also reported hearing of another IED terror attack at a location between Ras Kamboni and Ishakani at the border on Saturday dawn that is said to have left two civilians dead.

“We believe its the attack that prompted them to hold the curfew on our village and conduct the operation. It was only until around 6 pm in the evening that we were allowed to go to the shops,” Omar Mohamed said.

Security officers have refused to comment on the house curfew or admit to the alleged IED attack that killed two and prompted the lockdown of an entire village for hours.

One of the senior security officers in Lamu, however, denied that Ras Kamboni village had been on lockdown and said the gunshots and explosions reported by the villagers were from a routine drill by security agencies from a nearby camp.

Efforts to get a comment from the Linda Boni operation bosses were futile as their phones went unanswered.

Last week, three al Shabaab militants were felled by security officers from Rapid Border Patrol Unit-RBPU along the Ishakani-Ras Kamboni road in Kiunga, Lamu East.

This was shortly after an IED planted by the militants went off.

Two officers were wounded in the attack.

The Star


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