NAIROBI, Kenya July 14 – Five security personnel were killed on Thursday in an operation to free Miriam El Maawy, the Principal Secretary for Public Works who had been abducted by Al Shabaab terrorists, police sources said.
El Maawy was abducted at Milihoi on the Mpeketoni-Lamu road at about 4 pm, leading to a major security operation.
Maawy was rescued when the car she was in lost control and rolled while speeding towards the border with Somalia.
It caught fire killing his driver and bodyguard while the PS sustained injuries. She was airlifted to Nairobi on THursday night after receiving emergency treatment in Lamu having suffered injuries on both legs and hip.
But a gunfight broke out between the kidnappers and security forces, during which four police or military personnel were killed along with Maawy’s bodyguard, a senior police officer told AFP.
Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Joseph Awuoth confirmed Maawy had been rescued but gave no further details.
Police headquarters did not provide details of the five deaths, only saying they were aware of the bodyguard and driver.
Coast regional police boss Larry Kieng said there were casualties in the incident but did not specify the number.
“There are casualties but the PS is safe. The operation is ongoing,” he said.
Another police officer told us that the PS was headed for a security meeting at Jima area where people were beheaded recently as well as hold a development meeting with locals.
Al Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu but also carries out regular attacks in neighbouring Kenya, which has troops in Somalia as part of an African Union force.
The group has increased its attacks in recent weeks in Lamu, as Kenya prepares to go to the polls for a presidential election on August 8.
“Some of the attackers have been killed and others have fled,” another senior police officer said.