Lamu,KENYA:Police in Lamu are pursuing a group of suspected Al shabaab militants who were spotted at Ndeu area in Hindi division,Lamu West on Saturday morning.
Locals in the area had reported seeing a group of about 50 heavily armed suspected Al shabaab militants heading to a KenGen power station which is located just a few kilometers away from Milihoi area where suspected militants launched an ambush on a police land cruiser,killing one officer and injuring three while torching two vehicles, the police land cruiser and a private Toyota pickup.
In the Saturday citing however, locals had reported they suspected the armed men to be Al shabaab militants since they wore plain jungle green uniforms and carried several black flags with white inscriptions, synonymous with those of Al shabaab militants.
“I was in my car and was heading to Mpeketoni from Lamu where I had just delivery grocery supplies when I saw a huge group of people from a distance.I parked my car behind a bend on the road and could see they had green uniforms and they carried black flags too.The flags definitely had some white markings which I couldn’t read.They then went into the KenGen power station direction.I just reversed my car and fled,”said Muchemi Mburu.
Locals who made the citation said the suspected militants appeared not be in a hurry as they walked slowly towards the direction of their destination.
“You would think that they would be scared because there is an operation to search for them.But they seemed unbothered and were literally strolling right in the middle of the road.We know it Wasn’t police or anything like that.We have seen what Al shabaab uniforms and flags look like and we know it was definitely them,”said Hardein Yussuf,a miraa van driver.
The situation has instilled fear and tension among road users of the Lamu-Garsen road who now want the government to explain to them whether it’s actually safe for them to use the road with what seems to be a growing concern over the state of security.
Many travelers who were heading to and from Mpeketoni had to cut short their journeys for fear of being attacked by the militants.
“I think we deserve to be told the truth on whether or not this road is safe to use.We need that information before any more fatalities are reported.They shouldn’t wait for more people to be killed before they can finally tell the truth.It obvious looks like this militants are in the process of doing some real damage here.We have a right to that information,”said Haroun Kariki,a probox driver.
Kariuki says he had to refund his passengers’ fares when he heard that suspected militants had been spotted at Ndeu area.
“I was scared and so were the passengers.I haven’t gone to Mpeketoni since Saturday and my home is there.This whole situation is scary and not good for business at all,”he said.
Lamu County Administration Police coordinating commander Charles Mbatu confirmed having received the report on the sighting of suspected Al shabaab militants but said the group was likely security officers who have been conducting a security operation in the area since the Milihoi attack on Thursday.
Mbatu said there is a huge presence of the Kenya Defense Forces-KDF and regular police who have been deployed to the area since the recent attack and that such a huge presence could easily be confused for something else by someone not in the know.
He however encouraged members of the public to continue cooperating with security officers and report any suspicious persons or sightings to the police as soon as they do so as to allow for prompt interventions.
“We received reports from members of the public that suspicious persons had been seen at Ndeu.We immediately dispatched a team of soldiers there.They have combed that area but haven’t seen a thing.We think locals could have easily confused the huge number of KDF soldiers deployed for something else,”said Mbatu.