Lamu,KENYA: Residents of Koreni village in Mkunumbi, Lamu West now say they are living in fear over what they term as increased cases of midnight raids by the Kenya Defense Forces-KDF in search of terrorists and weapons believed to be in their midst.
According to residents, the latest raid took place on Sunday dawn after KDF soldiers descended on houses in the village conducting impromptu searches for guns believed to be in the hands of some of the villagers and terrorists hiding amongst them.
The raid took place at around 2 am as they slept in their houses.
Koreni village is inhabited by over 600 people majority being from the Somali community.
Former area Chief Muhumed Kalmey said they were ambushed and forcefully dragged from their homes before the searches were conducted.
“They forced themselves into my house at around 1.45 by the time we were waking up, the soldiers were already inside the house and ordered us out not even caring that some of us were naked. They told me they were searching for guns, “said Kalmey.
Those who refused to open their doors had their houses forcefully broken into by the soldiers.
Hassan Ali, another villager said the soldiers had ransacked their houses leaving their children traumatized.
“They ordered us out and asked us to show them our national IDs which we did. Then they turned the entire house upside down and left without telling us anything. The kids were so scared and were screaming but it didn’t bother them.
The villagers now claim that the soldiers have made it a habit to ambush them in the middle of the night and conduct searches for weapons and terrorists.
“We are really not comfortable with all these. It’s unfair. Let them fight terrorism but shouldn’t target us. We are not terrorists and neither do we harbor them. These night raids are scary and uncomfortable, we are really worried, “said Ali.
The villagers said the cold treatment they receive from the soldiers and all units conducting the Linda Boni security operation has made many shy away from approaching the security forces with crucial information for fear of victimization.
When contacted, Linda Boni Operation Director Joseph Kanyiri confirmed the midnight search was conducted but said it was a normal routine check in an area of interest.
Kanyiri said a number of weapons were recovered from some of the villagers.
He said much of the operation info can’t be divulged due to the confidentiality of the operation.
“That’s an area of interest and that was a routine check. We recovered a variety of weapons. It’s not prudent to say much on such operations and we are asking locals to cooperate with security agencies whenever they come calling. Such operations mean well and shouldn’t be construed in any other way,” said Kanyiri.
However, the village located along the Lamu –Mpeketoni is often caught in between rigorous KDF searches and attacks blamed on Al-Shabaab militants.
This is due to its close proximity to Milihoi a hotspot where suspected Alshabaab militants have in the past ambushed and raided several passenger and security vehicles.