Fears in Lamu as foreign herders linked to Alshabaab camp at border

Fears in Lamu as foreign herders linked to Alshabaab camp at border

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Pastoralists herding their cattle. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu, KENYA: Herders who were sent packing from Lamu County by security agencies on suspicion of being Alshabaab militants have now pitched camp at the Kipini border of Lamu and Tana River causing residents in the areas sleepless nights.

On August 18,Linda Boni director Joseph Kanyiri ordered all herders to remove their animals from inside the Boni forest in the next 48 hours and that anyone that fails to do so would be considered a terrorist and bombed alongside the forest.

Kanyiri said they want every human being who isn’t part of the operation to move out in order to allow for the bombing of Alshabaab hideouts inside the forest.

He said many of those posing as herders were suspicious, since their activities are closely related to those of the Alshabaab and that it was hard to comprehend how the herders who graze their livestock in the forest claim not to see any attackers or even their hideouts and added that they are probably part of the terror gang.

“The so called herders must give the security an attitude to operate and deal with Alshabaab.They stay in the Boni forest claiming to graze their livestock yet they claim not to see any terror camps or any attackers who flee inside the forest.we want them all out in the next 48 hours,” said Kanyiri.

Residents of the Kipini border now say they haven’t known peace since the herders set foot in their areas and that due to the fear and paranoia,many have been spending nights in the forests for fear of being attacked by the herders who have been labeled as suspects by security.

Speaking in their homes on Sunday,the residents say the herders have also been grazing their huge flocks of livestock on their farms and that many were afraid of telling them off.

Many are of the opinion that the continued stay of the herders in the area might result into more conflicts and even deaths in the area which has been peaceful before the latter came in.

Residents have also threatened to hold demonstrations to push for the security agencies to chase the herders whose number has been increasing daily from the area.

“We cant stand them.They are suspected to be the terrorists and you definitely must understand how we feel.They should go back to their homes,” said Anthony Njuki.

Many of the herders are from neighboruing Tana River,Garissa and Wajir counties.

Commenting on the matter,Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said they would send police to pursue the herders and ensure they cross back into their respective counties.

He said the order still stands and that every foreign herder is to pack and head back to their counties together with their livestock and not on the border.

Kitiyo however said that a considerable number of herders had already heeded the order and gone back and that the few ‘difficult elements’ who are still dilly dallying will soon be dealt with and asked residents of Kipini border to hold their horses.

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