Operation Linda Boni extended to cover four key areas


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File image of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia. PHOTO| COURTESY

The security operation to flush out Al-Shabaab from Boni Forest in Lamu County has been extended to cover four key areas in Lamu with security officers giving herders in Koreni and Pangani areas one week to move to safer areas.

The operation is set to cover Pandanguo, Bothei, Pangani and Witu which have been key targets for terror attacks by Al Shabaab militants.

The Director of Operation Linda Boni James Ole Serian announced the extension a week after two security officers were killed and two others seriously injured after heavily armed gunmen believed to be members of the Al Shabaab militia ambushed their truck at Milihoi area near Mpeketoni.

Early this month, the security team also lost one Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) officer after he succumbed to injuries sustained following a land mine explosion at Laktabei near the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu East.

The announcement also came days after Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery visited Magogoni Military base in Lamu to discuss the security situation in the region.

Speaking to Citizen TV, Serian said the directive to move the herders, who are from Garissa and Tana River, is aimed at creating space for security officers to engage the militants.

Despite several setbacks, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to continue with the operation saying the operation has been a success so far.

In his address last month, Police Spokesperson Charles Owino said that six Al-Shabaab camps in Boni Forest, which had been used to launch attacks in Kenya, had been destroyed and weapons stolen by Al Shabaab during the Mpeketoni attack recovered.

He added that there has been a reduction in security threats in Boni, Milimani, Pandanguo and Maharani, noting that locals who had been displaced from their homes have returned.

Owino noted that two Tanzanians, Masoud Khamis and Twaha Rashid, were arrested on their way to Somalia and charged in court as police move to paralyse the movement of Al-Shabaab recruits into Somalia.

The multi-agency operation, Owino said, was aimed at restoring security in Boni and its environs from threats by Al-Shabaab who are reported to have used the forest as a training camp and route into Kenya.

As part of the operation, police presence has been enhanced in the area with eight more posts being set up in Kiunga, Basuba, Milimani, Pandanguo, Maharani, Witu, Wema and Kipipini.

The forest is also set to be gazetted as a reserve in order to boost tourism with the management of Dandoru Reserve being formulated to create economic benefits for the locals.

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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