Terror attacks: Get lasting security solution for Lamu

Thursday, January 6th, 2022 07:45 | By
Security officers cordon off the area in Witho village where six people were killed and houses burned down by suspected Al-Shabaab militants on Monday morning. Photo/PD/BONNY MWANGI

There has been needless loss of lives in Lamu county. In the latest incidents, authorities are investigating circumstances under which attackers raided a village in Mpeketoni and killed seven people early this week.

Local security teams indicated that the aggressors isolated their targets before killing them.

Of the six victims, some were stabbed, shot dead at gunpoint while others were burnt to death.

A seventh victim was killed the following day, not far from the scene of the first attack. 

Police said that while the exact motive of the attacks had not been established, the gang appeared to have targeted non-natives.

Authorities said they believed attackers were youths who had undergone training in the Boni Forest which is known for terror-related activities. 

Our concern is informed by the fact there have been similar attacks in the past, leading to colossal loss of lives.

We are reminded of the July 2014 raid during which 57 people were killed. The country on July 13, 2017 lost former Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam El-Maawy after she and her convoy were attacked at Milihoi area on Lamu-Mpeketoni road. 

 The fact that gang attacks continue to claim lives, displace and drive families into poverty means that various government strategies deployed to solve the problem have not worked well. Indeed, there is a nexus between organised crime and poverty.

Violence instills fear, disrupts economic activity and scares away investors, rendering families, especially the youth, vulnerable.

Impoverished and jobless youths are then rendered as a ready army for recruitment to organised criminal groups.

We are aware that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday declared the affected areas a “disturbed zone” and directed deployment of a multi-agency security team to mop-up illegal firearms and track down criminals.

Matiang’i also declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew and asked locals to cooperate.

While we applaud the motive, we caution that security agencies should not exploit the impending crackdown to brutalise villagers as has happened in the past. 

Misplaced aggression against locals will deny them the cooperation central to the success of the exercise.

We also encourage the affected communities to cooperate with the security teams by providing information that will help weed out criminals in their midst.

It is probably high time the government reviewed its security strategy for the area and worked with the county leadership to address the problem of poverty in Lamu.

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