, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Kenya Navy forces sunk yet another boat in Kenyan waters on Friday as it intensified patrols in the sea to fight off Al Shabaab militants from Somalia even as coast residents accused the forces of attacking and killing innocent fishermen.
Military Spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir did not state the death toll from the Friday dawn attack on the suspected fighters who were said to have been confronted as they sped towards the Kenyan side.
“The Kenya Navy while on patrol duties sank a boat in the area of Ras Kiamboni,” he said in a statement. The attack occurred at 2am.
“The boat was challenged to stop for identification but continued to approach the Kenya Navy at high speed. Consequently they were fired at,” Maj Chirchir added. He said the boat was operating on a no-go zone.
On Wednesday, the Kenya Defense forces said it had sunk a boat of the Al Shabaab fighters in the high seas, killing 18 militants.
Some families in Mombasa however, emerged on Friday and claimed those killed were Kenyans on a fishing expedition who were shot as they returned home.
A family spokesman of the alleged fishermen Austahi Abdul told reporters in Mombasa that 11 Kenyan fishermen were at the Kenya-Somalia boarder on a fishing mission when they were confronted by the Kenya Navy on patrol.
Abdul claimed the fishermen identified themselves and were allegedly let go before they were attacked by the navy who sunk their boat.
Some of the fishermen were killed on the spot while others managed to swim ashore. He said five of them were still missing.
“These fishermen identified themselves and it beats logic to see the Kenya navy go ahead at sink their boat,” said Abdul.
He appealed to the government to “stop killing innocent people in the pretext of fighting Al-Shaabab militants in the lawless country.
The military headquarters in Nairobi has not responded to the allegations of the Coast fishermen.
Military Spokesman Maj Chirchir had sent a statement on Thursday evening confirming that their navy forces had sunk the ‘Al Shabaab’ boat. A one-minute video of the said boat was also sent to newsrooms. It mainly captured the boat up in flames after being attacked by the Kenya Navy forces.
The navy has warned maritime operators from venturing into waters declared a no-go zone in the Indian Ocean due to the military offensive going on in Somalia.
“We wish to reiterate that the Kenya– Somalia border is still closed and that any maritime operations in these areas are banned,” the Defense statement said.
The Kenyan Defense forces have also warned residents of Kismayu and some ten towns surrounding it to be alert and keep off from Al Shabaab militants due to an imminent attack planned there soon.
On Friday, the defense forces headquarters in Nairobi said it had confirmed that Al Shabaab foreign fighters were preparing to escape to Yemen.
“KDF has confirmed that foreign fighters have re-grouped in the town of Barawe and Marka in Somalia with the intent of fleeing to Yemen,” Maj Chirchir said. “We therefore, warn any merchant ships operating along this sea lane of communication to be very cautious.”