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Kenya military launch airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Boni forest

by Joy Nabukewa MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan military have launched air strikes against Al-Shabaab terrorists believed to be operating within the vast Boni Forest, Lamu County near the border with Somalia.

Coast Regional Co-ordinator Nelson Marwa confirmed on Monday evening the start of the airstrikes, saying the operation will go on despite opposition from a section of Kenyans.

"As we speak, air strikes are on.

"Boni forest belongs to Kenya and Al-Shabaab must know we will secure it," Marwa said in Mombasa.

Lamu area has suffered several attacks leaving at least a dozen people dead in a week.

Nine of them were beheaded by the terrorists.

Marwa said the government had begun moving residents to safer areas following the operation.

"We are asking communities living in and around that forest to move to secure areas that have been designated by the government as there is going to be terrible operation there and we do not want to see civilian causalities," he said.

Intelligence reports indicate that the Al-Shabaab insurgents have been dispatched to carry out attacks that could target military and police units in the vast Boni Forest that the militants have been using as their hideout.

The counties of the larger northern Kenya could also be a target as those fleeing from AMISOM aggression are said to have entered Kenya through the porous border with Somalia.

The operation came a day after the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area as part of efforts to address the Al-Shabaab attacks.

Marwa said people in areas affected by the curfew would be allowed to conduct and attend prayers.

An operation dubbed Operation Linda Boni is also ongoing in the area.

Other security officers in the area suspect some of the terrorists who were injured in last week’s clash could be still in the forest hence the airstrikes.

Marwa said the curfew imposed in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa counties on Saturday by the government will go hand in hand with the operation to flush out militias from the Boni Forest.


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