NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 11- The government on Friday launched a major security operation in Boni Forest, a notorious area in Lamu where Al Shabaab terrorists have been hiding, often launching attacks in the region—mainly targeting security forces.
The operation known as ‘Operation Linda (Protect) Boni’ was launched by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery who was accompanied by top security bosses, including Military chief Samson Mwathethe and Inspector General of Police Joseph Bonnet.
“The pressure on Boni enclave has grown in the aftermath of the defeat of Al Shabaab in most parts of Southern Somalia. In an attempt to hold some ground they have turned southwards under the cover of the belt crossing our borders into Lamu and used this to move into Malindi, Mombasa, Garissa and the rest of the country.,’ Nkaissery said, in his speech while launching the security operation that brings together the military and police.
The vast Boni forest area, along the Kenya Somalia border extends into Somalia to become Lacta Belt.
“Al Shabaab operatives have been in filtrating into this habitation with the aim of using its cover as an operational base,” Nkaissery said, adding “This situation is compounded by the forested and bushy environment which gives terrorists cover against both mobile and aerial surveillance.”
Several people, including security forces have been killed in attacks by the militants who often used Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
“This operation is aimed at securing the Boni enclave. To achieve this, the Government has also developed and will implement an elaborate socio-economic development programme that focuses on infrastructure, social services including healthcare, education and administrative services,” the minister said, assuring that security forces are under instructions to observe human rights during the operation.
“I wish to emphasis that the Government shall carry out the planned operation in strict adherence to the rights of all Kenyans particularly the residents of Boni area,” he said.
Under a Gazette Notice number 93 of September 2015, the Boni enclave covers “Holugho Border Point, Galmagala, Sangilu, Ijara, Bodhei, Milimani, Baurre, Basuba, Mangai, Malalani, Kiunga, Ishakani and Dar-es-Salaam Border Point”.
Nkaissery who held talks with officers involved in the operation lauded local leaders for supporting the initiative. Political leaders have often opposed such security operations conducted in other parts of the country.