WAR ON TERROR

Security forces mount major operation to pacify terror-prone Boni forest in Lamu

Villagers asked to vacate as security teams advance.

In Summary
  • Residents of Mangai, Dodori, Pandanguo and Mararani which are mostly occupied by herders have been asked to seek temporary residence elsewhere and pave way for the operation.
  • Locals have welcomed the operation and pledged to assist the security troops in any way possible.
KDF troops on patrol in Lamu.
KDF troops on patrol in Lamu.
Image: CHETII PRAXIDES

Residents in terror-prone areas of Lamu county have been advised to vacate as multi-agency teams advance in preparation for an operation to flush out al Shabaab militants from their hideouts in the Boni forest.

Residents of Mangai, Dodori, Pandanguo and Mararani which are mostly occupied by herders have been asked to seek temporary residence elsewhere and pave way for the operation.

Security reports indicate that the multi-agency security teams conducting the Amani Boni security operation have mapped out al Shabaab hideouts in Taksile, Mangulo, Mangai and  Hadhi environs amongst other areas in expansive Boni Forest in Lamu County which are believed to harbour terrorists.

Residents in the affected villages have reported sighting troops of heavily armed Kenya Defense Forces' elite forces commandos and other special trained teams advancing to the areas.

A police land cruiser ferries security officers to the operation zone in Boni areas,Lamu.
A police land cruiser ferries security officers to the operation zone in Boni areas,Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

A senior KDF commander in charge of the operation who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the security operation said the imminent security operation will be two-pronged as it will also involve airstrikes.

"We will be forced to use airstrikes to complement ground attacks. That is why Air Force fighter jets have been seen hovering over the forest lately. We, therefore, request herders occupying the targeted parts to immediately relocate to safer areas," he said.

The operation, which seeks to pacify the area ahead of planned road construction projects within Boni, will be extended to areas bordering Somalia.

The national government is building a 20-kilometre road connecting the terror-prone Pandanguo area in Lamu to the main Lamu-Garsen road with a view to improving infrastructure and security in Boni areas.

The road will equally link with the Lamu-Bodhei-Ijara-Garissa Road in a bid to ensure that all security roads within the Boni area are interconnected.

LOCALS WELCOME MOVE

Meanwhile, locals have welcomed the operation and pledged to assist the security troops in any way possible.

"It is these operations that have necessitated development in Boni. These terrorists have held us hostage for decades and orchestrated endless destruction of life and property," said mzee Abubakar Mwando.

Security units advancing for an operation in Boni forest,Lamu.
Security units advancing for an operation in Boni forest,Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

He added, "They had burnt down all learning institutions and health facilities but these operations have rekindled hope of civilization here."

The KDF commander however indicated that the operation will not affect the usual KDF's Civil-Military Cooperation-CIMIC activities and impact projects in these areas.

The military has completed a full-fledged boarding primary school in Mangai, drilled boreholes in Basuba and Bodhei.

They have also built water pans for herders to cushion them from the severity of drought.

Edited by D Tarus