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Military, police foil terror attack on camp as Shabaab flee into forest

Monday March 23 2020

Magogoni-Naval base in Lamu County

Kenyan troops take cover at the Manda-Magogoni naval base in Lamu County during a raid in January. A joint security team on March 21, 2020 foiled a terror attack in the county. PHOTO | FILE  

KALUME KAZUNGU
By KALUME KAZUNGU
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Security agencies in Lamu have repulsed a group of over 10 heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants who attempted to force their way into a camp belonging to the H-Young Construction Company at Milihoi area.

This is the second time that the militants have attempted to attack the camp after a similar attack by four heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists was thwarted by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers on February 9.

During the February attack, the militants managed to torch two vehicles, including an excavator belonging to the H-Young Company and a cement lorry headed to the Lapsset project site in Kililana. No one was killed or injured.

MORNING ATTACK

Confirming the Saturday morning attack, Lamu police commander Moses Murithi said security agencies repulsed the terrorists who fled into the nearby forest.

Mr Murithi said more officers have been deployed to the area to pursue the militants. He appealed to wananchi to report to authorities any suspicious incidents or individuals.

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“It is true. There was an attempted suspected Al-Shabaab attack at Milihoi area, just metres from where the H-Young Construction Company Camp is situated. About ten heavily armed terrorists tried to force their way into the camp today in the morning, but were repulsed by security officers manning the area. There was fire exchange before the militants fled into the nearby forest. So far, the situation has been contained. Security has been tightened in the area and there is no cause for alarm,” said Mr Murithi.

Mr Julius Munene, a passenger aboard a probox from Mpeketoni to Lamu town told the Nation that their driver had to make a U-turn after sighting heavy military presence on the road at Milihoi.

Mr Munene said they also heard gunshots.

“We saw heavy military presence on the road. At the same time, we were hearing gunshots in the nearby forest. We knew something was wrong,” said Mr Munene.

Mrs Lucy Chege, a pedestrian, said there were increased patrols on the Lamu-Garsen route by both the KDF and police, an indication that something was wrong somewhere.

TERRORISTS

“The number of security agencies patrolling the road today (Sunday) was abnormal, but we were told there was a foiled Al-Shabaab attack at Milihoi. We thank our gallant soldiers and police for repulsing the Milihoi attack today. We feel safer with their presence,” said Ms Chege.

The Saturday attempted terrorist attack at Milihoi comes just days after the KDF taking part in the ongoing multi-agency security operation Linda Boni killed 12 Al-Shabaab militants and captured one after a raid at an Al-Shabaab hideout at Nginda area which is between Korisa and Bar’goni in Lamu.

During the ambush, KDF also managed to recover several weapons including three AK-47 rifles, seven magazines, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, pouches, a water carrier among other paraphernalia.

INTELLIGENCE

The raid also saw a notorious local commander from the coast region who had been providing intelligence and logistical support to terrorists hiding inside the dense Boni forest.

Saturday’s incident also happened at a time when the government is undertaking the multi-agency security operation — Linda Boni — which was launched in September, 2015. The operation’s key objective is to flush out terrorists belonging to Al-Shabaab’s elite group Jaysh Al-Ayman which has been operating from inside the Boni forest since early 2012 in retaliation to the deployment of Kenyan troops to Somalia.

Since the operation started, Lamu has seen a reduced number of Al-Shabaab attacks and killings of security agents and civilians, unlike in previous years when the region was marred by terrorist attacks.