Hundreds of herders from Garissa who have taken their livestock inside Boni Forest for pasture have started leaving the area due to an imminent military raid to flush out Al-Shabaab terrorists.
Speaking to the Nation on Monday, a group of herders spoke of their frustrations and fears of being targeted in the Kenya Defence Force’s pending assault against the militants who are said to be hiding in the forest.
Boni Forest: From green paradise to warzone
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Mr Abdi Mohamed, a herder, said they were forced to leave behind their weak and sickly livestock as they look for pasture after they were ordered to leave the forest.
“Today we want to go to areas near towns so that we are not caught up in the bombing as we were informed by local administrators.
“We also fear that some of the herders might be affected or hurt in the bombing,” he said.
“Since the forest was the only source of pasture for our livestock, especially during dry seasons like this, we are in a dilemma.”
Linda Boni Operation director Joseph Kanyiri on Friday warned residents living near the forest to move away within 48 hours, saying the government will proceed with plans to destroy the hideouts.
Al-Shabaab’s elite group, Jaysh Al-Ayman, is said to have been operating from the forest since 2012 and in 2013 in retaliation to the deployment of Kenyan soldiers in Somalia.
Speaking in his office a day after being sworn into office, Garissa Governor Ali Korane said military operations were normally on target and must be acting on credible information.
Explosions heard inside Boni Forest as military warns residents to keep off.