Herders linked to Al shabaab warned to leave Lamu-Tana River border

Lamu County commissioner Gilbert Kityo addressing the media in his office PHOTO NATASHA NEMA

Lamu,KENYA:Foreign herders who were sent packing from Lamu county after being suspected of  having links with Al shabaab and pitched camp at the Kipini border have been asked to move away from the area before stern action is taken against them.

The herders were ordered out of the Boni forest where they used to graze their large herds of livestock after it became clear that some of them were actually Alshabaab terrorists camouflaging as herders.

The move was to allow security agencies to bomb Alshabaab hideouts inside the Boni forest.

Linda Boni operation director Joseph Kanyiri then gave them 48 hours within which they were to move out of Lamu county and back to their respective counties.

They are mostly from Tana River.Garissa and Wajir counties.

Majority of the herders however pitched camp at the Kipini area on the Lamu-Tana River border causing fear and panic among residents in the area.

Residents of Kipini decried the influx of the herders in their areas and asked the security agencies to intervene and get them out of the area.

Many have been spending nights in the bush for fear of being attacked by the herders linked to Alshabaab.

Kipini residents also said due to the lack of pastures in the area,the herders were also grazing their livestock on farms and destroying crops.

However speaking in his office on Wednesday,Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo sent a word of warning to the herders asking them to move into their respective counties failure to which the police and military will be dispatched to pursue them ruthlessly.

Kitiyo said it was wrong for them to pitch camp at Kipini since the area still falls within Lamu county and that as such strict legal and security measures will be taken against those who refuse to heed the order.

He said he was aware that the presence of the herders at Kipini was causing tension and fear among locals and said they also had the option of seeking amicable co-existence with the Kipini border as they plan to leave instead of imposing their presence.

Kitiyo said chiefs had also been directed to ensure all herders arriving at the border area are dully registered for easy monitoring.

He said in the meantime all eyes were on Kipini and warned the herders against importing any suspect behavior to the area saying they will be dealt with ruthlessly.

Kitiyo said at the moment,Lamu was free from any foreign herders.

“Many don’t understand that Kipini is still in Lamu and pitching camp there simply means your proving stubborn to the order to get out.Those at Kipini should move out before we get to them.And meanwhile we are closely monitoring them,if we hear any suspect activities,we will descend on them with everything we have,”said Kitiyo.

He also urged locals try and co-exist with the herders saying not all of them were bad and that,that way it will be easy to identify suspicious elements amongst them.