Lamu, KENYA:Villagers of Ishakani village on the Lamu-Somalia border have fled for their lives after al shabaab militants raided the village early Sunday morning.
Tension remains high in the village and neighboring areas after over 100 heavily armed al shabaab militants woke up villagers at around 6am and forced them to listen to their summons on why they think theirs is a just cause for over an hour.
The entire village has been deserted and villagers are currently putting up in makeshift camps in Kiunga area,five kilometers away.
The militants are said to have asked the villagers to stop cooperating with the government or face the consequences.
According to Shahibu Mohamed,a villager,the militants descended upon the village at around 6.20am knocking on doors and waking up villagers and preaching to them up to around 7.45am when they walked out and disappeared into the Boni forest.
Shahibu said the militants also asked the villagers to stop cooperating with security agencies or giving out information concerning them.
They also asked villagers to avoid at all costs travelling or seeking lifts in police or military vehicles since ‘they were the targets and we don’t want you people to die along with them’.
“They knocked on our doors and ordered us out of our houses at around 6.20am.They were more than 100,so many of them.They wore hoods over their faces and were heavily armed.A small group addressed us while another kept vigil around the village and in bushes around since we could hear them.They told us to stop cooperating with the government and security officers.They also asked us to stop taking rides in security vehicles lest we die when they bomb them.They said they were only interested in killing the KDF and police officers and not civilians.Later,they left and headed for the Boni forest.Thats when people began packing out of their houses.We are scared,”said Shahibu.
Another villager Ahmed Ali said the militants also went to the now deserted Ishakani police post where they brought down the Kenyan flag and hoisted their own in its place.
Currently,there is no single security camp in Ishakani area after the government directed that officers who were based at the Ishakani police post be moved out to pave way for special forces among them the KDF to take over a week ago.
“The militants brought down two flags;the Kenyan and police flags and hoisted theirs.They didn’t destroy anything though.They then headed to the village where they ordered people out and preached to them.They said we shouldn’t be scared,that they wont harm us but were only interested in security officers and asked us not to ride in their vehicles lest we die too,”he said.
Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed the incident but called for calm saying there was no reason for alarm since security officers were fully in control of the situation.
“It is true. A group of between 60 to 100 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Ishakani village this morning but within 30 minutes, we had already sent out a special team of KDF to pursue the terrorists. I am told residents are fleeing the area. I advise them not to do so. The militants are targeting the military and not the locals. Let them be rest assured that their security is guaranteed since we have taken charge of the area,” said Kitiyo.
Ishakani is home to over 400 people majority of whom are native Bajunis.
The raid comes just hours after Alshabaab militants ambushed a security convoy killing a civilian woman and injuring five security officers at Nyongoro area along the Lamu-Garsen highway on Saturday.
Two police land cruisers were also torched by the militants during the incident.
The latest raid comes just hours after Linda Boni operation director had issued a statement saying security forces were in hot pursuit of the Saturday incident.
Incidents of Alshabaab raiding villages only to issue lectures to villagers raent new in Lamu.
On July 14, 2014, a group of over 60 Al-Shabaab militants raided Pandanguo village where they leactured villagers for about three hours before robbing six KPR officers in the area of their guns.
On August 15, 2015, over 80 heavily armed militants among them four Caucasians raided Basuba village at around 5am, assembled the villagers and lectured them for over two hours.