Locals in terror-hit areas said to be working with Shabaab

Wednesday August 15 2018

KDF soldier talks to locals in Kotile

A KDF soldier talks to locals in Kotile. The Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri says some locals in terror-hit areas could be working as Al-Shabaab sympathisers. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Locals in terror hot spots in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa counties have been accused of harbouring Al-Shabaab militants and even giving them information that has enabled them launch attacks in the region in recent days.

The move has resulted to too much time being spent in the ongoing multi-agency Linda Boni security operation which seeks to completely wipe out the militants from the dense Boni Forest.

The operation was launched in September 2015 with the major objective being to flush out Al-Shabaab militants.

But despite the security operation, terrorist attacks and killings are still being witnessed from time to time with locals questioning the effectiveness of the operation.


But speaking to the Nation on Wednesday, Operation Linda Boni head, who is also the Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri, said they suspect that some villagers are working with or for the terror group and are even informing them of police and military movements and operations.

Mr Kanyiri, who is also the Lamu County Commissioner, attributed the recent attack on a KDF vehicle at Kwa Omollo Bridge on the Bodhei-Bar’goni road to local community networks.

Six KDF officers were killed while five others were injured during the daylight incident.

Mr Kanyiri said security officers who operate in the affected areas experience a hard time dealing with the militants since the villagers refuse to give information or even point them out and instead opt to hide them.

Lamu security

KDF soldiers on patrol in Kotile on the border of Lamu and Garissa counties. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


He said it is more challenging when some segments of the society “see no evil and report no evil” especially in some situations where the enemy lives among them.

“It’s unfortunate that the locals, particularly those in terror hotspots, see no evil and report no evil regarding enemy spies, reconnaissance parties, sympathisers, financiers and or resupply networks.

“I can confidently say that the society in some of these areas where we have spontaneous enemy sightings and planting of IEDs know a thing or two that they are not telling security agencies,” said Mr Kanyiri.

He said it is hard for the enemy to operate without locals having prior information on strangers among them and returnees on devious and terror missions.


He called on the residents to give information to the security agencies, adding that it will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

He said the security agencies deployed in the various Linda Boni operation areas will ensure the safety and security of wananchi.

He said officers in liaison with local administrators will continue addressing the concerns of wananchi and called on residents to cooperate in ensuring the success of the operation.

KDF soldiers

KDF soldiers on guard during a medical camp in Lamu. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Mr Kanyiri also cautioned local youths against being coerced into joining Al-Shabaab group.

He noted that the way the terrorists carry out their attacks is a clear indication that some locals are working with them.

“The terrorists have devised techniques to woo local youths into joining the terror gang and subsequently use them to launch attacks on their fellow villagers.

“How can a terrorist coming from Somalia be able to know or trace every pathway, every corner of the county and its villages? It is obvious that locals are working with them which is very unfortunate. We need to cooperate with security agencies if the war on terror is to be worn in this region,” he added.