Residents in fear after police issue them threats

Some residents of Lamu have complained to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) over threats from security personnel on suspicion of harbouring Al-Shabaab.

Koreni residents in Lamu West said they were worried after security personnel involved in Operation Linda Boni threatened to ‘finish’ the entire village in case of any Al-Shabaab attack at Milihoi.

On August 2, Kenya Defence Forces together with National Police Service raided the village, dragged people and conducted forceful searches for Al-Shabaab militants and weapons in their homes.

Milihoi, a renowned hotspot for Al-Shabaab attacks and ambushes is located on the Lamu-Mpeketoni route and is about eight kilometres from Koreni.

On July 13, Milihoi hit the headlines after Al-Shabaab militants waylaid and took hostage Principal Secretary Mariam El Maawy and five other people including her bodyguards and nephew.

THREATS

Only the PS survived the incident as the other abductees were killed.

Addressing journalists at Koreni on Monday, the angry villagers accused IPOA of failing to act despite reporting the threats to them.

Former chief Muhumed Kalmey who is also a Nyumba Kumi official said they have been living in fear for the past one month due to the threats issued by the security agencies.

Residents said it was unfair for the security agencies to target them when they had no control of Al-Shabaab attacks.

The villagers said they have never felt free and safe since the security agencies made the direct threat to them.

INVADED VILLAGE

Mr Kalmey also demanded an answer from the Lamu security department over his arrest, detention and interrogations before he was released on August 2.

“We are no longer free in our village. The security agencies invaded the village and harassed us. They arrested me and held me at the Mpeketoni Police Station for several hours. I was interrogated as if I was a terrorist before I was released. What we are facing at the hands of the police is very unfair,” said Mr Kalmey.

Mrs Mariam Hussein said police dragged them out of their houses and conducted searches by force.

“They said they were looking for Al-Shabaab or weapons. According to them, we are suspects. But above all they told us we would face the music if any Al-Shabaab attack took place at Milihoi ever again. For God’s sake, how are we responsible if Al-Shabaab attacks Milihoi or any other place for that matter?”

“All we ask is that they don’t victimise us even as they fight the militants who are equally our enemies. We are peace lovers but they treat us as though we are the enemy,” she said.

UNFAIR TARGET

The villagers however feel it is unfair for the police to target them in the war on Al-Shabaab instead of focusing their efforts on the real issues causing insecurity and terrorism in the county.

Mr Musa Gula said the villagers are more scared of the police and military than they are of the Al-Shabaab.

“They should fight Al-Shabaab in Boni forest and not in our village. They should stop targeting us and harassing us anytime they feel like. We are even scared of giving crucial information to police for fear of victimisation,” said Mr Gula.

Residents say security personnel involved in Operation Linda Boni threatened to ‘finish’ the entire Koreni village.

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