Officers conducting the ongoing multi-agency security Operation Linda Boni in Lamu have discovered and destroyed three key Al-Shabaab hideouts at Lango la Simba in Witu Division of Lamu West.
Speaking during a security meeting at Mahrus Hotel in Lamu Island on Sunday, Linda Boni Operation Director Joseph Kanyiri said the hideouts were discovered and destroyed through efforts by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers and National Police Service officers manning the area.
He said the hideouts were being used by the militants to launch attacks in the area especially on vehicles plying the Lamu-Gamba-Garsen road.
It is in this area that militants suspected to be Al-Shabaab attacked and killed passengers and motorists.
On August 2, 2017, three Tana River County officials died after their vehicle was torched by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in the same area which is also home to the Nyongoro and Gamba.
It is the same day that five passengers aboard a Raha bus from Malindi to Kipini were injured when the bus was sprayed with bullets by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
Recently, two people died in a twin attack in the area after a Toyota Probox car and a lorry were sprayed with bullets by the militants.
Mr Kanyiri said he is confident that the identification and destruction of the three hideouts this week will help bring peace and stability in the area.
He said an operation to hunt down the militants in Witu, Hindi and inside Boni Forest is still ongoing.
KEEP OFF FOREST
Mr Kanyiri asked residents to stay away from the forest which he said is currently under tight security surveillance.
He also asked residents who are staying in IDP camps at Katsaka Kairu and at the AIC church in Witu Town to resist the urge to secretly go back to their homes as that would be risking their lives.
He pointed out that one of the four men killed in Hindi recently had gone to cut wood inside Boni Forest when he encountered the militants who killed him.
Mr Kanyiri also cited the killings of four people in Maleli Village on August 18 saying they died after leaving the IDP camps and going back to their homes despite having been warned against doing so by security agencies.
“We have managed to destroy three key Al-Shabaab hide outs at Lango la Simba in Witu. That’s where they used to hide and ambush vehicles on the Witu-Gamba-Garsen highway. All we ask is that people stay out of the Boni Forest and for those who are in IDP camps, be patient, don’t go back home yet. That’s risky if you do. Let’s give our officers enough space to eliminate criminals in those areas,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He said more police and military camps have been set up in terror-prone areas including Bodhei, Milimani, Mangai, Usalama, Mararani, Ishakani, Pandanguo, Nyatha, Salama and others.
He said the biggest challenge facing the operation is the lack of cooperation from members of the public who refuse to give information to aid in the war on Al-Shabaab.
“We thank the few members of the public who have been giving information to the police and aid the war on Al-Shabaab. If you have information on anything, bring it to us. Let’s all work together to make Lamu safe again,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He also called on farmers and herders to respect the government order to move out of Boni Forest and seek alternative settlement elsewhere to allow the operation to be conducted effectively.
Al-Shabaab militants suspected to have planted the device.