Security forces search North Lamu forests area for ‘al-Shabaab’
Kenya’s security forces on Friday launched a major operation to flush out Islamist militants, ‘al-Shabaab’, from the vast Boni forest in the coastal town of Lamu near the border with Somalia.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery led senior government and security officers to kick off the security operation comprising military and police.
The operation is expected to last 90 days.
“The government is committed to flush out the ‘al-Shabaab’ group that continues to use the forest as safe haven for training and recruiting of members who later wage terrorist attacks in the country,” Nkaiserry said in Lamu.
“Al-Shabaab operatives have been in filtrating into this habitation with the aim of using its cover as an operational base.
“This situation is compounded by the forested and bushy environment which gives terrorists cover against both mobile and aerial surveillance,” he added.
He said the government has deployed multi-agency teams in the operation which extends from Lamu, through Tana River and Garissa counties.
Nkaissery said 50 kilometers of the forest cover will be cleared to pave way for construction of access road for police and patrol vehicles.
According to the long term strategy, the government plans to boost police presence in the area to ensure public safety, security and rule of law.
The over 160km-wide forest has been home and a source of livelihood for centuries for the Boni, who are hunter-gatherers.
The forest borders the Indian Ocean and stretches all the way to the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu and onward to Hulugho in Garissa.
Nkaissery added that the exercise will be carried in humane way that will adhere to the rights of all Kenyans particularly the residents of Boni area.
He said the ‘al-Shabaab’ group that has been defeated in parts of Southern Somalia is using the Boni enclave in an attempt to move into Malindi, Mombasa, Garissa and the rest of the country.