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Officers say Boni forest still dangerous

By Benard Sanga | April 3rd 2016
Some of the Security operations around Boni Forest areas in lamu County recently. PHOTO BY MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD

Parts of Lamu and Garissa counties remain high risk areas as combined security teams comb Boni Forest to flush out Al-Shabaab militants.

Security officers say Operation Linda Boni, a military campaign to flush out Jaysh Ayman, a militant wing of the Al-Shabaab responsible for the Garissa University and the Mpeketoni attacks, is well on course.

However, the threat from the militants is still real, say security operatives.

Even though support from local people has helped to minimise the threat, ultimately the military campaign has had to be strengthened, said James ole Serian, the Director of Operation Linda Boni.

“Nine police stations have been built and three more will be added in different parts of this area,” said ole Serian.

The operation covers parts of the Boni forest in two counties — Lamu and Garissa.

“This is the area militants use to launch the attacks in Lamu and northern parts of the country,” said Serian.

The operation covers what has been classified as the Boni enclave which encompasses Holugho Border Point, Galmagala, Sangilu, Ijara, Bodhei, Milimani, Baurre, Basuba, Mangai and Malalani.

In 2014 and 2015 Lamu and Garissa were the theatre of bloody terror attacks by Jaysh Ayman militants, and a raid on Kenya Defence Forces camp at Baure on June 14. Two soldiers were killed in the Baure attack after a battle that left 11 militants dead, among them militia leader Luqman Osman Issa, a native of Mombasa’s Bondeni area.

Others killed were British jihadist Thomas Evans Anthony alias Abdul Hakim and Said Abdalla Hemed alias Abu Hamza. Police identified the dead militants as members of Jaysh Ayman.

Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa and Regional Police Commander Francis Wanjohi say the danger from Boni Forest is still present, but say the establishment of nine police stations would beef up security, even though reports have indicated these precincts are ill-equipped and poorly manned.

“More forces have been deployed in the area,” Wanjohi affirmed.

“The Quick Response Team and Rapid Development Unit have been beefed up to boost the campaign,” said the commander.

The campaign has incorporated a multiagency team to boost the KDF and is made up of personnel from the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forestry.

Pandanguo, Bothei, Pangani and Witu will be covered in the operation, and the Amisom troops across the border have been alerted to be on the lookout for militants who cross over to parts of the forest in Somali territory, said ole Serian.

“We have also dispatched forces to monitor the sea because militants from Lamu can escape by boat,” he added.

So far the militants have been starved of food and water and their supply lines have been cut off limiting their opportunity to replenish their stocks, said ole Serian. And to coordinate a quick response from local people, mobile phone masts have been erected, and security personnel will continue to escort vehicles in Lamu, Tana River and parts of the North Eastern region.

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