Tension is high at Ishakani Village in Lamu East Sub-County after a group of about 100 heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants ambushed the village on Sunday morning and preached to the residents for about one hour.
The village is at the border of Lamu and Somalia.
One resident said the militants invaded the village at about 6.30am, flushed out villagers from their houses and preached to them radical teachings until 7.45am.
The militants advised the villagers not to cooperate with security agencies and to avoid travelling in military and police vehicles.
He said the militants told them they have no issues with the locals and that they were only targeting government officers – the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and police officers.
“At around 6.30am, a group of hooded men armed with AK-47 rifles and wearing jungle clothes came to the village. About nine men entered our village and ordered us out of our houses. The rest, who were many, kept guard around the village and in the bushes but we could hear them and even see them,” he said.
“The nine men gathered us in one place and began lecturing us. They said they have no bad intention against us. They also warned us not to cooperate with the government or give any information about their visit.
“They also advised us not to board police or military vehicles since they were their major targets ... At around 7.45am shortly after finishing their lecture, they went away into the forest.”
Another villager told the Nation on the phone that the militants first visited the Ishakani Police Post where they took away the government and police flags and hoisted their own flag.
“They didn’t destroy anything. They then came to our village and ordered us out of our houses, preached to us between 7am to around 8am. They said they don’t have any problem with us but with the military officers and other government agents. They also told us not to disclose information concerning them to the security officers. They then headed to the nearby bushes,” he said.
Currently, the Ishakani Police Post has no police officer after the government directed that the officers serving in the area should be moved out to pave way for special forces, including the KDF, to take charge of the area a week ago.
About 70 families live in Ishakani Village.
By noon on Sunday, most residents fled from the village for fear of their lives.
Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed the incident and urged residents to be calm.
He said a sufficient number of security officers have been deployed to the area to pursue the militants.
“It is true. A group of between 60 to 100 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Ishakani Village this morning but within 30 minutes, we had already sent out a special team of KDF to pursue the terrorists,” said Mr Kitiyo.
“I am told residents are fleeing the area. I advise them not to do so. The militants are targeting the military and not the locals. Let them rest assured that their security is guaranteed since we have taken charge of the area.”
The incident comes just a day after a woman was killed and five police officers were injured when a group of suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked two police land cruiser vehicles at Nyongoro on the Lamu-Garsen road on Saturday. The police were escorting passenger buses from Lamu to Mombasa.
The two vehicles were set ablaze by the attackers.
In July 2014, a group of more than 60 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Pandanguo Village where they preached to the villagers for about three hours before taking six guns belonging to Kenya Police Reservists in the area and went away with them.
In August 2015, more than 80 heavily armed militants, among them four Caucasians, raided Basuba Village at around 5am, assembled the villagers and lectured them for more than two hours.