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Kenyan security forces foil Al-Shabaab attack in Lamu

LAMU (Xinhua) -- Kenyan security forces foiled an attempted attack on their camp in the coastal region of Lamu by Al-Shabaab early Tuesday, hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an all-out war against terrorists in the restive region. 

A senior police officer in Lamu confirmed the attempted attack, saying about 30 armed terrorists were on a mission to attack Mokowe GSU camp but sneaked out after noticing the presence of security officers.

“The militants who were heavily armed approached the police camp in two groups at around 1 a.m. but we overpowered them and (they) fled into the Boni forest,” the police officer who did not want to be identified said by telephone.

Witnesses said the insurgents retreated to the vast Boni forest which they have been using as their hideout to launch attacks on the Lamu villagers.

Police operating in the area said they were on alert and there are fears of more attacks in the area from the gang.

“They were sighted near the camp with an intention to attack but retreated to the forest. There was no casualty,” said an official in the area. Mokowe is about 35 kilometres from Milihoi where five people were killed last week.

About 20 people have been killed in the area for the last two weeks. The latest incident happened last week when the militants killed a bodyguard to Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam El Maawy, her nephew, driver and two other people in Milihoi area.

The militants had killed 13 people in Jima and Pandaguo areas a week earlier. On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the terrorists who have been terrorizing the Lamu residents be killed and buried.

Kenyatta pledged to meet fire-with-fire in the war against terrorists. “Our citizens are losing their lives. Our security forces are losing their lives. My Principal Secretary was wounded here a few days ago,” said Kenyatta, who is on a political campaign tour of the Lamu region.

“We have to deal with these terror mongers. I have no apologies to make in taking the tough measures we are taking,” he added, while promising to continue with the government’s heavy investment in infrastructure to spur prosperity.

“We shall finish them. When we get them, we will not jail but bury them,” he said of the terrorists who have turned Boni Forest into a playground, attacking and killing locals before retreating there.

The Kenyan leader also told those living in areas prone to Al-Shabaab attacks to vacate and give way for ongoing operation there. He also asked locals in Lamu County to cooperate with security officers and give information that will help get the attackers.

The attacks have affected tourism, local economy and movement. A number of schools have also closed down because of the incidents. Given elections are scheduled for next month, it is still unclear if the locals will be able to vote.

Electoral body has urged police to ensure there is voting on Aug. 8. A curfew has been imposed in the area as part of efforts to tame the attacks.

The police said more border patrol will be intensified along the Kenya-Somalia border in Kiunga and Dadaad refugee camps to prevent the Al-Qaida-linked insurgents who are fleeing Kismayo to from entering into the country

Kenya’s tourism has suffered a decline in the number of tourists arriving since September 2011 when the Somali militant group, the Al-Shabaab, carried out the kidnappings of tourists in the Lamu archipelago and the kidnapping of the Spanish volunteers.

The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since the military incursion into southern Somalia.

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