Lamu,KENYA:Proceeds from illegal logging and charcoal burning inside the Boni forest in Lamu are believed to be funding Al-Shabaab militants who are still hiding in the dense forest.
A section of the Boni minority community is also on the spot for using proceeds from sale of game meat to sustain the militants.
Subsequently a massive crackdown on the loggers and charcoal burners inside the forest has been launched led by Lamu County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi.
Security officers said areas where the illegal venture has been taking place have been witnessing frequent Al Shabaab attacks.
Speaking when he launched the crackdown on Tuesday,the commander said police in the county will work closely with the various units conducting the Linda Boni security operation inside the Boni forest to ensure the illegal trade comes to an end.
Kioi said it was dangerous to tolerate any venture which is suspected to endanger the lives of people and in this case the fact that proceeds from charcoal and timber sells inside the Boni forest have been funding Al Shabaab which security units are working day and night to eliminate.
He said it was unfortunate that instead of bettering their lives,some of the Boni residents were hell bent on helping the militants whose terror attacks have left hordes of security officers and civilians dead.
“The fact that people burn charcoal and cut timber to fund such acts is unimaginable and that’s why we have launched this crackdown.We cant have such activities going on here.Not with the efforst our boys in the Linda Boni operation have been making,”said Kioi.
Kioi explained that proceeds from the ventures were being used to buy food,water and other needs for Al Shabaab militants who still reside inside the Boni forest.
Over 250 bags of charcoal and tones of timber were recovered on the first day of the crackdown at Ziwa la Kengo,Ziwa la Taa and Maisha Masha areas all of which fall within the Boni forest confines.
Four suspects were also arrested and will be arraigned in court soon to answer to charges of illegal logging and funding terrorism.
Kioi said the crackdown will continue for as long as it takes or until the illegal ventures are completely eradicated.
“We have launched a massive crackdown for charcoal burners and loggers inside Boni forest. We have already managed to recover around 240 bags of charcoal and tonnes of timber. Four loggers have also been arrested and will be arraigned in court any time from now. The public should understand that we will not entertain logging or any other activity which is against the laws of this country,” said Kioi.
The Witu Forest Manager John Mbori warned of dire consequences for residents disregarding the ongoing logging ban.
“The logging ban will succeed only if we move in one direction. We really need to conserve our environment including the trees. If we allow people to continue cutting down trees in our forests, then Lamu will become a desert. We will take serious action against those who are found conducting logging,” said Mbori.
Some residents had earlier on launched reports of illegal activities going on inside the Boni forest.
The crackdown comes days after KFS officers in the county recovered eight tones of Bambaru wood with a street value of Sh.800,000 at Maisha Masha area in Witu division.