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Conflicting reports over navy attack on boat in Kiunga

BUSINESS
By | November 5th 2011

By WILLIS OKETCH

There were conflicting reports over an attack on a boat sunk by the Kenya Navy in the Ras Kamboni area.

Whereas the Kenyan military reported the Navy hitting the boat after defying orders "to stop for identification", reports from Lamu indicated the occupants were fishermen.

Mr Sheikh Swaleh Abdulrrahman Friday protested that eight fishermen had been killed, one of them his relative whom he identified as Issa Yusuf.

Military Spokesperson Emmanuel Chirchir in an Operation Linda Nchi update said when the boat was challenged to stop for identification, it "continued to approach the Kenya Navy at high speed, consequently they were fired at".

He said the boat was approaching the Kenyan waters from Somalia and was operating on no-go zone.

But family members of the alleged victims are demanding explanation. "We want Internal Security Minister George Saitoti to explain to us the circumstances of the killing of the fishermen," said Abdulrrahman.

At Kilifi Mosque, Sheikh Swaleh said they were "shocked to learn about the death of the men from our relatives at Ngomeni in Malindi".

Banned areas

But in the statement, Maj Chirchir did not indicate any casualties, only saying that they believed that "some militants on board swam ashore" and urged the public to be cautious of people seeking treatment from bullet wounds and report "suspicious persons to the police or security agency". "We wish to reiterate that the Kenya-Somalia border is still closed and that any maritime operations are banned," said Chirchir.

Lamu DC, Stephen Ikua confirmed the killings saying they refused to surrender to the security forces when asked to do so.

"We have a clear order, fishermen must not go to Somalia and when fishing in Kunga, they must do it during the day, the fishermen were found at night and when challenged to identify themselves they refused," he said. He said the security forces were forced to shoot at the fishermen who refused to explain themselves while in banned areas.

"The Government has given clear instructions: fishing in Lamu is okay; in Kiunga it must be done during the day, and also, nobody is allowed to fish in Somalia. This must be heeded and be clear to all," he said.

Kilifi Mosque Imam Sheikh Badru Khamisi asked the Government to explain the alleged killings.

Others believed to have died are Avisa Yusuf and Haji Omar.

On Mashujaa Day, Coast PC Ernest Munyi said the Government had banned fishermen from venturing into the Indian Ocean without clearance from security officers.

Sheikh Badru claimed that the family members got information from some fishermen who escaped the Navy attack.

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