KDF, GSU officers sent to Lamu as two more killed

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi in a meeting with Lamu leaders, January 7, 2022. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The state has deployed Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) personnel in Lamu County to root out militants following the killings of two more people at Kibaoni on Sunday evening.

 The latest killings bring the death toll to 14. Six people were on Monday last week killed at Widho trading centre, while another one was burnt to death in his house at Hindi last Tuesday.

On Friday last week, four police officers were killed in an explosion at Milihoi area in Mkunumbi on the Garsen-Lamu road.

The officers’ vehicle was hit by an explosive fired by militants using Rocket-Propelled Grenade. They had escorted a convoy of vehicles from Gamba in Tana River County to Lamu County.

They were headed to Ndeu roadblock to escort other vehicles to Gamba. When the six people were killed last week, their houses were burnt and property destroyed in the mayhem. The Sunday evening killings sparked off protests at Kibaoni trading centre, with residents condemning the police for failing to protect them.

The attack took place at around 5.30pm, before the dusk to dawn curfew slapped by the government, to last 30 days, since the attacks began.

Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata yesterday said the two people killed last Sunday were escaping from the armed militants after the latter opened fire on villagers going about their businesses.

There was a fierce exchange of fire and authorities were not certain about the exact casualties. But two deaths were confirmed.

“We had tension in Juhudi and Kamukunji in Majembeni location near Kibaoni. In the process, a lot of people left their homes and we provided them shelter in a nearby school. By this morning (yesterday) a lot of people had started going back. Police and the military have put in place measures to protect residents, including those in isolated areas,” said Mr Elungata.

Elungata, who held a meeting with Lamu leaders in Mombasa, assured locals of protection following the deployment of multi-agency security personnel.

Last Sunday, attackers shot villagers, who scampered for safety as the armed men advanced to their houses. The KDF now join General Service Unit (GSU) and general police under Border Control Unit (BCU) in pursuit of the militants believed to be roaming the Boni forest.

The militants are suspected to have taken advantage of preexisting land tussles. They have been targeting unsettled people who live in some ranches.

Elungata assured the villagers at Juhudi, Kamukunji, Majembeni: “The government has put in place elaborate security measures to restore normalcy.”

At the security meeting with Lamu leaders, including Governor Fahim Twaha, Elungata said adequate security personnel had been deployed to deal with the attackers. “There should be no cause for worry because we have found the loophole and sealed it,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by Lamu County Commissioner Samson Macharia and Coast Regional Police Commander Manase Musyoka. The Lamu leaders commended the national government for quick intervention and appealed to residents to remain peaceful and united while the multi-agency security team handles the matter.