Al Shabaab attack police in Lamu, set vehicle on fire
Armed militants ambushed police on patrol in the volatile area of Lamu County and opened fire on a vehicle, reportedly injuring several people including police officers.
Witnesses told The Standard last evening that two policemen were killed but state authorities discounted the claims asking for calm pending verification of conflicting reports from the scene.
There were conflicting reports of where the attack took place with some reports indicating the attack occurred at Milihoi, between Mpeketoni and Hindi townships at around 6.30p.m. James Ole Seriani, the top government official in charge of the joint task force leading operations against insurgents in Lamu County, told The Standard that “there was some shooting between Mkunumbi and Koreni and police officers have responded and the operation is still going on”.
He said he had little information but confirmed that he had received a report that “one person was injured and a vehicle burnt around 6.30 this evening”.
Ole Seriani said the vehicle was a civilian one but added that he has not received any reports of police deaths.
Crispus Mutali, the head of anti-terrorist operations in Lamu who is also the county’s AP Commandant told The Standard that “I am still on scene and I cannot release a statement now.”
Sources on site alleged that at least two people were killed and shooting had spread southwards towards Mpeketoni where residents reported loud explosions and helicopter overflights.
The attack has occurred just hours after the state extended a curfew in the northern parts of Lamu for 90 days to allow a multi-task force operation against Jaysh Ayman, a militant offshoot of al Shabaab, which has been active in Mpeketoni and other parts of Lamu since mid-last year and is responsible for many attacks on civilians, police and military targets. The group claimed responsibility for the June 14 2015 massacre of mainly 65 Christian men in
Mpeketoni and the June 14 attack on a Kenya Defence Forces camp at Baure in northern Lamu.
An operation consisting police, military forces and forest guards was launched in the area, targeting Boni forest which straddles Lamu and Ijara in southern Garissa counties into Somalia where militants are believed to be hiding.
Last month Jaysh Ayman and an al Shabaab faction led by Muhamed Kunow alias Gamadhere who was accused of masterminding the April 2 terrorist carnage at Garissa University College, defected from al Shabaab’s mainstream.