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June 25, 2018

Lamu attacks not triggered by fights for resources - Matiang'i

A file photo of Boni community members and journalists touring Milimani area along Boni Forest in Lamu county. /ALPHONCE GARI
A file photo of Boni community members and journalists touring Milimani area along Boni Forest in Lamu county. /ALPHONCE GARI

The sporadic and ruthless attacks in Lamu are not triggered by fights for resource control, acting Interior CS Fred Matiang'i has said.

Matiang'i said terrorism perpetrated by Islamic militia group al Shaabab is the root cause.

The CS said claims that locals are clawing and unleashing strikes because of resources are part of diversionary tactics by the terrorists.

Police believe attackers have been retreating back to Boni Forest after launching assaults.

This led Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa to resort to bombing the forest to flush out the militants.

He said assailants cannot wreak havoc and still "breed" in Kenya's territory.

Read: Marwa threatens to bomb Boni Forest, says ready to die in war on al Shabaab

Also read: Leave Boni Forest or be bombed alongside al Shabaab, Lamu security chiefs tell locals

The government was criticised after Marwa's remarks, activists saying bombing is a smokescreen and that the ultimate target is timber and the vast land.

Matiang'i's denied this, his announcement differing with Marwa's which noted the ambushed are locally instigated and centred on resources.

"It is not true. There are no resource conflicts in Lamu. These are just excuses," Matiang's told a press conference in Mombasa on Thursday.

"We have elaborate institutions [to handle resource conflict]. Structures are in place to mitigate such challenge."

The CS said the killings in Hola, Tana River county, on voting day were "normal" and that police acted swiftly.


On election preparedness, Matiang'i said they will provide security for IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, the commissioners and all polling materials.

"Come October 17, we will be better and stronger than August 8."

Police came under tough scrutiny for using excessive force to break up protests staged by NASA supporters. Chaos erupted in strongholds in Nairobi, Homa Bay and Kisumu after IEBC's declaration that President Uhuru Kenyatta had defeated Raila Odinga. Matters worsened when Raila refused to concede saying the election had been rigged.

Raila wants KCPE and KCSE examinations pushed if necessary but Matiang'i said election will not disrupt the tests.

"Security will be provided to mount exams. The ICT department and the Ministry of Education are working closely with us."

Read: Delay exams if you have to, Raila tells IEBC

On hate speech, the Cabinet Secretary said the government is committed to acting in line with the law and apprehending criminals.

"Hatemongers, regardless of affiliation, will be acted upon without fear or favour," he said. "We will intensify out efforts and there will be no room for those who want to bend the country."

Regarding rampant fires at schools, the minister said the number of cases has reduced and that there is no cause for alarm.

But he noted some of the fires are deliberate and that 11 recommendations have been implemented from stakeholder reports.

"Six recommendations are being institutionalised and were are engaging in statutory reforms."