SEVEN SOLDIERS KILLED

Operation mounted in Boni Forest after Tuesday attack

Troops on routine duties within Baure area died after their vehicle hit an IED, militants later fired at them

In Summary

•Security officials aware of the operations said the Kenya response troops had killed at least eight of the attackers who were operating a sleeper cell in the forest.

•The affected troops were travelling in a land cruiser when the ambush happened at about 9.30 am.

Community activists demand updates on Linda Boni progress in Lamu.
Security officers on patrol inside the Boni forest in Lamu. Community activists demand updates on Linda Boni progress in Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

A multi-agency security team has been deployed to the expansive Boni Forest in Lamu county following Tuesday’s attack on troops in the area that left seven soldiers dead.

At least one other victim was missing after a Kenya Defence Forces team was ambushed and shot at by al Shabaab terrorists in Baure area.

Security officials aware of the operations said the Kenya response troops had killed at least eight of the attackers who were operating a sleeper cell in the forest.

The official said two soldiers died on the spot while others later succumbed to their injuries.

KDF spokesperson Zipporah Kioko said the soldiers were on routine duties within Baure area when they encountered an IED, reinforced with an ambush along the Bodhei-Kiunga road.

“The casualties were airlifted to the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi for medical care,” Kioko said in a statement.

“Following the incident, multi-agency teams were deployed and are in hot pursuit of the attackers.”

The affected troops were travelling in a land cruiser when the ambush happened at about 9.30 am.

This was preceded by a gun attack on the victims as others took cover in the forest.

Multi-agency teams joined in the operation that ensued amid reports they had caught up with the attackers in an enclave in the forest.

The attack preceded Thursday's planned opening of the Lamu Port by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

A senior officer aware of the development said the army lost troops in the incident while a dozen others were injured.

“A major operation is ongoing in the area,” the officer said.

The incident came amid reports that terror gangs were congregating in parts of Lamu and Mandera counties.

Officials aware of the developments said the terrorists planned to launch attacks in the areas and special forces were pursuing them.

Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia however said the number of casualties remains unknown as the area is remote and response teams were on their way there.

The area is near the Kenya-Somalia border which has been under attack by terrorists in the past.

Boni Forest is an operation zone as the national government has since 2015 conducted a multi-agency security exercise dubbed Linda Boni, which is aimed at flushing out al Shabaab militants believed to be hiding there.

In April, two people were killed when a lorry they were travelling in ran over an IED.

The two were part of a team constructing the border wall that is aimed at stopping the militants from crossing into and out of Kenya.

Kenya began the construction of the 700-kilometre long wall in 2015.

The wall, which is known as the Kenya-Somalia border securitisation project is among others meant to secure the country from attacks by the Somalia-based al Shabaab terrorists.

The project plan includes having designated immigration and custom entry points with a two-foot-tall concrete wall fitted with CCTV cameras.

Trenches are also being constructed in the area.

The plan includes the creation of at least 22 border posts on the border with well-equipped personnel to respond to any form of aggression.

Officials say once complete, the teams will be spread 40 kilometres apart to enable quick response to attacks from militants.

The fence especially in Mandera and Lamu has helped reduce incidents of attacks by the militants who often crossed at will.

A team of more than 200 special forces has been deployed to the area to help tame the growing terror threats.

Research by government security agencies says 30 per cent of the country’s security problems are traced to the porous Somalia border often penetrated by terrorists.

 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris