Lamu police deny harassing locals

Police officers in Witu Forest PHOTO: file

Lamu, KENYA: Police in Lamu have sharply denied harassing locals in their search for Al-Shabaab militants who continue to terrorize the region.

Ealier in the week,villagers of Koreni village in Lamu West had earlier on stated that they were more afraid of the police than the Al-Shabaab after police threatened to deal with them if ever there was any Al-Shabaab attack in the area.

The villagers said the security agencies were unfairly targeting them in the war on terror.

However, Linda Boni Operation Director Joseph Kanyiri and Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo denied the allegations and instead said the police who raided the village had been tipped off on the presence of illegal firearms in the village hence the raid.

The two security bosses said the search was majorly done to recover the firearms and that no one was harassed or threatened.

They asked residents to comply with the ongoing amnesty period that ends on September 30 and surrender any illegal firearm in their possession to the police failure to which the shall takes its course.

Speaking jointly in a peace brokering meeting that brought together security officers and villagers of Koreni,Pangani and Witu on Thursday,the two security bosses said they were not aware of any cases of police harassment since no one had reported such incidents.

They said they were keen to ensure security officers conduct themselves with the required decorum that befits their profession and in a manner that doesn’t demean the rights of the public.

The Koreni villagers had accused police of ambushing them in their homes,forcefully dragging them out of their houses and conducting forceful searches for Alshabaab whom they accused villagers of hiding.

However Kitiyo and Kanyiri said the raid on Koreni village was justified since police had received reliable information that some of the villagers had illegal firearms in their possession which were to be used to conduct terror attacks in nearby areas.

They said the raids were majorly done to recover the firearms which they indeed recovered.

“After we were tipped that some people had firearms which were to be used to conduct attacks,we swung into action and recovered AK-47s hidden in a cow shade in the village.When we asked who the owner was,no one claimed it.We are still waiting for that person to turn up but in the meantime the indecent is seriously being investigated,”said Kanyiri.

Kanyiri said some residents were deliberately frustrating the war on Alshabaab in the region by withholding crucial information and refusing to cooperate with the police where need be.

“There is a great relationship between the security units here and the locals and we appreciate that.However there are some elements who still give us a hard time making the war on Alshabaab quite a task but we are up for it.All we want is cooperation,”said Kanyiri.

County commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo urged those with illegal firearms to take advantage of the amnesty period that ends on September 30 to surrender such or face the full wrath of the law.

“The amnesty period ends on September 30.If anyone has illegal firearms let them surrender to the police,mosques,churches or anywhere where they know we shall get them.After that we shall not deal kindly with anyone found with guns and all that.We must restore peace and tranquility here,” said Kitiyo.

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