Police search for suspected militia spotted in Milihoi lamu

Security officers patrolling the expansive Boni forest in Lamu County. Al-shabaab militants use the forest to launch attacks against civilian population in the area. PHOTO/FILE

Lamu, KENYA: Police in Lamu are combing bushes and the general area at Milihoi area in Lamu in search for a group of suspected armed al shabaab militants said to have been spotted in the area on Tuesday afternoon.

Police escorting passenger buses from Mombasa to Lamu are said to have spotted the heavily armed men at Milihoi at around 12pm forcing them to turn back the convoy to Mkunumbi area, after which they were later escorted by armed police and helicopters to Lamu.

One of the drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw a group of about 100 heavily armed men dressed in army regalia walking on the road at Milihoi area while flying flags similar to what has commonly being used by al shabaab.

“I was in a probox and was transporting passengers from Lamu to Mpeketoni.On reaching Milihoi,I saw a group of so many men about 100 and I could clearly see that they were all armed since they were in front of me in clear view.There were several flags in the air.They were coming towards us.I just turned the vehicle and fled back to Lamu,”he said.

Lamu county commissioner Joseph Kanyiri also confirmed receiving reports on the same and said police had already been deployed to search the area.

The commissioner however said Milihoi area remains a point of interest for the security officers bearing in mind that a security vehicle was snatched by al shabaab in the same area sometimes last year.

A communication mast was also vandalized during the incident.

“Its true that we received information from one of the drivers operating on the Lamu-Mombasa road that he had spotted a reasonable number or armed men at Milihoi at around 11am.We immediately sent officers to comb the area but no one has so far been found.A convoy of buses from Mombasa to Lamu had to be stopped at Mkunumbi for about an hour as the crackdown went on.Mkunumbi remains an area of great interest for the security though.A security vehicle was taken by militants at the spot last year,”said Kanyiri.

The commissioner said the crackdown will go on until any threats are addressed and said there was no cause for alarm.

He called on all public transport vehicles to ensure they are escorted by armed police and that those who breach the law will be liable for punishment.

He called for vigilance from members of the public and said that any suspicious person or activity be promptly reported to the police to swift action and interventions.

“All buses and shuttles must be escorted by police.If you are a driver,don’t ever take off without police escort.Meanwhile lets all be vigilant as we continue with our duty to protect citizens and property,”said Kanyiri.