Lamu squatters protest harassment from forest wardens.

Lamu squatters protest harassment from forest wardens.

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Hundreds of armed squatters held demonstrations in Lamu on Thursday, protesting alleged harassment and mistreatment by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers in the area.

The over 500 squatters from lake Amu, and Kiongwe town in Mpeketoni, took to the streets saying the KFS wanted to forcefully evict them from lands that many of them had occupied for decades.

They claimed the officers roughed them up and beat them, and even set their residences and farms ablaze in a bid to force them to vacate the land, said to be owned by private developers.

They marched to the KFS offices in Mpeketoni, armed with machetes, clubs and stones, and vowed to camp there until the matter was resolved.

“(These officers) claim we are encroaching on someone’s land. We have been living here for decades and we don’t plan to move unless the ministry of lands shows us where to go from here,” said their spokesperson, David Njuguna.

They also want Governor Issa Timamy to intervene saying they lived in fear of the officers who they accused of brutality.

Earlier in the week, the county government issued a warning to the KFS against evicting any person until all the land was surveyed and title deeds issued.

The officer in charge of the KFS in Lamu was not available for comment as his telephone went unanswered.

Hundreds of other Lamu residents have also been at loggers heads with the government over delayed compensation for land acquired to construct the Lamu port.