Lamu,KENYA:Four pupils killed alongside four police officers when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a landmine suspected to have been planted on the road by Al-Shabaab militants at Mararani area have been buried at Kiunga in Lamu East.
The four were laid to rest at the Kiunga cemetery with community leaders calling on the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and other security personnel in the ongoing Operation Linda Boni to stick to their designated operation routes and avoid routes earmarked for civilian use.
The initial burial location had been slated for Mararani village but was changed at the last minute to the Kiunga in Lamu due to the inaccessibility of the area which is under heavy military operation at the moment.
The four bodies were ferried by the KDF for burial in Kiunga with entire ceremony being conducted under heavy security from the KDF and regular police.
Meanwhile five administration police officers and four children that went missing shortly after the attack at Mararani on Tuesday afternoon were able to track their way to the Mararani RBPU camp
Locals called on the government to treat the issue of insecurity and the general Alshabaab menace in the Basuba area and Lamu east generally with the seriousness it deserves in order to avoid similar incidents and fatalities.
Community leaders have urged the KDF and other security personnel conducting the ongoing Operation Linda Boni to stick to their designated operation routes and avoid routes earmarked for civilian use.
They feel civilians are now becoming collateral damage whenever militants pursue the security forces when they use civilian routes.
When the Linda Boni Operation commissioned in 2015, civilian and security routes were clearly marked with either side told to stick to their respective sides.
Locals however say the security units have been using civilian routes and as such Alshabaab militants have began planting IEDs and landmines and also launching attacks on the security on the civilian routes.
During the burial,the community has called on the military and other security agencies conducting the Linda Boni Operation not to use the Kiunga-Mkokoni highway since it’s the only road available for civilian use.
“The KDF made it clear that we were to keep off the Basuba-Kiunga highway and we did respect that.We were told the Mkokoni-Kiunga road was to be used by civilians but we are awareb that the military and police have also began using it.It should only be used by our businessmen to transport their goods, farmers to transport their produce, fishermen to transport their catch and county government officers to supervise projects and community development plans. KDF should therefore keep off this road,” said Yunus Mohamed.
“When our security officers use civilian roads, the Al-Shabaab who are obviously targeting them follow them there and in such a instance, civilians will die in any arising attack. We just want our security officers to stick to their routes because we don’t want more civilians dying because of that.”
Locals also feel there is need for more soldiers and police to be deployed to man the area and ensure security.
Meanwhile, nine people including five Administration Police officers and four children that went missing shortly after the attack at Mararani on Tuesday afternoon were able to track their way to the Mararani RBPU camp by Wednesday morning.
According to a police statement issued to the media, one AP officer and two children who were seriously injured were airlifted by a KDF Chopper for further treatment.