NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 31 – Boni forest security operation against Al Shabaab has been extended to four other areas in the region.
They include Bondhei, Pandanguo, Witu and Pangani areas that are in the larger Garissa and Tana River counties.
Head of the security operation James Ole Serian says locals have been given seven days to vacate the area as security forces prepare to move in.
The security operation known as ‘Operation Linda (Protect) Boni’ was launched in September, with security forces mainly targeting Al Shabaab terrorists who used it as a hide-out to launch attacks in the neighbouring areas.
“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.,’ Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said, 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.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet last week warned that Al Shabaab militants loyal to Al Qaeda have concentrated their activities in the region, where they killed a police officer and took away an Administration Police vehicle which is yet to be recovered.