LAMU (Xinhua) --
The Kenyan authorities on Monday issued a terror
alert after suspected group of heavily armed suspected al-Shabab
militants were sighted within the vast Boni forest in coastal
Kenya’s Lamu county.
The militants numbering to at
least 200 were sighted by honey harvesters who were going on
their business in Belasange area inside the Boni forest when
they stumbled upon the large group of militants.
The militants are reported to have fired at about 20
civilians but no one was injured as they managed to escape back
to safety and reported the incident.
Locals around the area said they are now living in fear of
the militants who are obviously lurking around their villages.
"We worry that they could attack us anytime now.
"That has always been the trend.
"If they are in the forest at this time, it only means that
they are preparing to launch an attack somewhere in the county
"We are worried," said Msuo Suli, a village head and honey
There was no immediate comment from Kenyan authorities on the
presence of the militants in the tourism resort region.
One of the youth who witnessed the incident Hussein Hamisi,
"We had noticed so many footprints which suggested there had
been a group of people and out of curiosity, we followed.
"That is when we came upon them.
"We knew it was al-Shabab.
"We could see guns and other arms.
"They were in a camp more or less since, we could see tents,"
"There was smoke also which implied that they were cooking.
"From the look of things, they had been there for several
"When they saw us they fired in our direction while others
fired in the air.
"We just fled," he added.
Following the incident, locals in the area now want the
government to increase security patrols to avert and combat any
possible terror attacks that could be in the pipeline.
Previous reports have indicated that al-Shabab militants have
set base and homes inside the forest from where they operate and
live with their families.
The area is home to at least 2,000 people from the Boni
minority community who are traditionally hunters and gatherers.
The Pandanguo village has however become the perfect target
and get-away for al-Shabab militants.
On July 5, 2017, over 200 al-Shabab militants raided the
village, ransacked all houses and made away with cutlery,
foodstuff and clothes, leaving the villagers with nothing.
The village and many others close to the Boni forest all fall
within security operation zones that are currently underway.
The Boni forest is currently under a security operation
dubbed the Linda Boni Operation which is meant to flush out al-Shabab
militants who are believed to be hiding from where they continue
to launch attacks on various parts of the county and beyond.
The operation was launched by the national government in 2015
and is being conducted by among other units the Kenya Defense
Forces (KDF) and other security agencies.