, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Police officers in the coastal region are in hot pursuit of a gang that killed a driver and then burnt his lorry in Mpeketoni, within Lamu County on Wednesday evening.
The gang also burnt down a police vehicle that was passing by during the incident but the driver managed to escape.
Kenya Police Spokesman Charles Owino says though the attack is similar to those executed by the Al-Shabaab, investigations are still ongoing to ascertain the motive and also to weed out the criminals from the hideouts.
“Initially we took it as banditry but if you look at it, the mode of burning the vehicle shows a hand of Al-Shabaab in it,” he said.
Owino urged the residents of Mpeketoni, which is still recovering from a series of terror attacks to provide any information to the security officers that may lead to the whereabouts of the gang.
“Remember, most of these people are not in uniform…they are just in the community and with the people. We need to encourage the public to pass more information to us,” he said.
He said that there could also be probability that they were ordinary thieves who just wanted to steal money but wonders: “Why kill and burn the car burn. That’s what makes us feel that this is not an ordinary banditry but we will be able to get to the bottom of this.”
“Any information you give us, we are going to keep to our self and use it positively and equally, let nobody fear. We are not after any youths of anybody.”
The public has been also urged to continue being vigilant even as the country heads to the festival season.
On September 11, the government 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 Boinnet.
“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.”
The vast Boni forest area, along the Kenya Somalia border extends into Somalia to become Lacta Belt.
“Al Shabaab operatives have been infiltrating 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).
The multi-agency operation is still ongoing.