Boni operation boss blames ‘new outfit’ for terror attacks

A new terror outfit may be behind the latest series of attacks in Lamu County and security agencies there are struggling to understand it.

Mr James ole Seriani, head of Operation Linda Boni, the multi-agency force that has been fighting terrorists in Boni forest for the last two years, told the Nation that the faces behind the latest attack will be known after they have either been captured or “neutralised.”

Being neutralised is security parlance for the killing of an enemy.

ENEMY

“There should be no impression that this enemy has always been around. Many were neutralised and quite a number disappeared to Somalia. But we will get them (these others).

We will know them once we neutralise them,” said Mr Seriani.

When the operation was launched in September 2015 by Maj0r-General Joseph Nkaissery – who was buried on Saturday – the target was Jayshi Ayman.

Jayshi Ayman was understood by security agencies as a local wing of the Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorist group.

COASTAL COMMUNITIES

The Kenyan outfit had aliases including Jeysh Ayman Majmo Ayman and Jeshi la Ayman.

Its founder is Abdifatah Abubakar Abdi, aka Musa Muhajir, a Kenyan from Mombasa.

READ: 3 dead, PS shot in Shabaab attack – VIDEO

Kenyan security agencies are yet to announce what became of him.

Initially, his fighters were mostly drawn from coastal communities and a few from North Easten region.

That changed and militants in the group included Europeans and Kenyans from upcountry communities.

FRESH ATTACKS

“The enemy was destroyed, but they are trying to come back. There is no space for them,” said Mr Seriani.

Despite his assurances, the fresh attacks have worried security agencies.

On Wednesday, the group carjacked, in broad daylight, Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam El Maawy at Milihoi in Lamu, before she was rescued by the military.

Her driver, a police bodyguard, and her nephew died in the attack while she survived with bullet wounds in the chest and arm, as well as burns in the legs.

EXPLOSIVE

Previously, there have been worse incidents including the killing of four police officers and four primary school children after a police lorry they were travelling in hit an improvised explosive device on Mararani-Kiunga road the week before.

Mr Seriani said the operation has been intensified.

READ: Air strikes pound Boni Forest

He said: “The operation will continue until the entire place is stabilised. There are no phases or stages but will go on until the area is safe. We shall continue until we get there.”

He added that the insecurity will not disrupt the August 8 General Election.

ELECTION

“It will not affect the General Election. I can assure you the election will be held,” he said.

Operation Linda Boni, already two years old, is under the spotlight because residents expected normalcy to have returned within 90 days after launch.

But the operation by the KDF, GSU and Kenya Police (Regular and AP) and the National Intelligence Service, has been extended every so often following new attacks.

GRADE ROADS

“It is not in vain. So much has been accomplished. There were activities to grade roads. Five communication masts have been constructed.

We have constructed two dams and repaired two airstrips in Kiunga and Witu. We also established police stations and camps,” Mr Seriani said.

But one of the camps at Pandanguo was raided by terrorists barely two weeks ago, overrun, and three officers killed.

The forest covers 1,339 km in Garissa County and covers another 877 kilometres in Lamu County.

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