Kenya Residents call for enhanced security

8 Sep 2017

Residents of Lamu County held protests on 6 and 7 September demanding enhanced security measures after four men were beheaded and several houses raided by suspected members of the Somali Islamist terror group, al Shabaab.

Residents were reportedly angered by police inaction after reporting the presence of suspicious men near Silini-Mashambani village on 5 September. The police reportedly failed to investigate the initial sighting, and later that day a woodcutter working in the nearby forest was killed by a heavily armed group who are suspected to have been members of al Shabaab.

Bobo village was subsequently attacked by an armed group at 1.30am on 6 September. Residents claim they called the police, but the majority of calls went unanswered. The few who were able to reach the police were informed that there were not enough officers available to respond to the attack. The armed men reportedly called out residents by name, surrounding the village and preventing inhabitants from fleeing.

One resident informed Kenyan media that the attackers were not afraid of being caught: “They were taking their time. When they spoke, they didn’t do it in hushed tones as someone afraid of being heard would. They spoke in normal tones. They ransacked houses and took what they wanted before killing.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said “Our deepest condolences go to the families of the four men killed in this brutal attack. We call on the Kenyan authorities, and in particular the Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, to make available the necessary resources to protect the people of Lamu County from terrorist attacks and to restore security to the region.”

Similar raids were perpetrated by al Shabaab on 18 August on Maleli Village, where at least three men were beheaded, and on 7 July on Jima and Pandanguo, where nine men were killed. These attacks occurred a matter of days after three police officers were killed in another nearby village. As a result of the deteriorating security situation in the coastal region, a dusk to dawn curfew imposed in Lamu, Garissa, and Tana River counties following the attacks on 7 July will be in place at least until October.

Al Shabaab is reported to have set up permanent training bases in the Boni forest in mid-2012. The dense forest extends to the Somali border, and from it al Shabaab has launched attacks into the three counties. Although the area is now surrounded by three army bases, it appears the terrorists are still able to operate in defiance of the curfew.

“The fact that extremists are still able operate during a curfew without fear of interception, while police refuse to assist citizens who are in imminent danger citing a lack of manpower, highlights the urgent need for an overhaul and strengthening of current security arrangements.  However, emergency measures are no substitute for a long-term strategy to expel al Shabaab from the forest. We call on the US and EU to strengthen their counter-terrorism cooperation and support for Kenya, and to assist the nation in formulating an effective strategy to locate and clear al Shabaab’s hideouts from the Boni Forest.” Mr Thomas added.

Take action