Lamu residents vacate villages as Linda Boni operation intensifies

Villagers of Maleli in Lamu shortly upon arrival at the Witu AIC church camp. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Residents in areas earmarked for the ongoing Operation Linda Boni and those in nearby villages in Lamu County have heeded to an order requiring them to vacate their homes to pave way for the operation.

By Tuesday and Wednesday most residents of Pandanguo, Maleli, Sendemke, Maisha Masha, Kakathe, Jima, Poromoko had fled their homes to put up at safe camps at the Witu AIC Church, Witu Catholic Church, Katsaka Kairu centre and Moa town.

The order to vacate homes was made recently by coast coordinator Nelson Marwa said the government had increased airstrikes against Alshabaab terrorists believed to be hiding deep within the dense Boni forest and as such asked villagers to move away and give way for an intensive operation to flush out Alshabaab militants.

Red Cross county coordinator Kauthar Alwy confirmed that over 35 households majorly from Jima and Poromoko villages are currently putting up at the Witu AIC church.

“We are coordinating with the national government to ensure those in camps are comfortable. We have around 109 persons at the Witu AIC camp with the number set to go up since many are still making their way here,”said Kauthar.

Similarly, most villagers from Pandanguo have also fled their homes and sought refuge in Witu town.

Parents have already transferred their children from Pandanguo primary to Witu primary school for fear of Alshabaab attacks on schools in their village.

Another safe camp has also been established at Katsaka Kairu and families urged to leave their homes and put up at the camp until the security situation is clearer.

The area is marred by poor road and communication network with an administrator who spoke anonymously saying they decided to have all families at the camp to enable for ease of assistance incase of any arising crisis.

“Many of the villagers here at Katsaka Kairu, Maleli, Kakathe and the surrounding areas fear being attacked by the militia. We have already agreed that those living in areas which are inaccessible especially during this rainy season move to Katsaka Kairu centre. As we speak, we already have tens of residents mostly women and children who are camping here at Kastaka Kairu Centre since Tuesday,” said the administrator on phone.

However, villagers of Milimani,Basuba,Mangai,Mararani and Kiangwe mostly occupied by the Boni minority community also known as the Aweer seem to have ignored the order to vacate their homes since not a single person had vacated the villages by Wednesday.

They have however heeded the dusk-dawn curfew.

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