Security agencies in Lamu have repulsed a group of about 50 heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants who attempted to attack Pandanguo Village in Witu Division.
The gun battle which lasted for about five hours started at around 10.30pm Saturday.
newsPandanguo Village Elder Adan Golja told the Nation Sunday morning that the group of about 40 to 50 heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants tried to force their way into the village at around 10pm.
Before reaching the village, they met with a farmer identified as Hashim who was tending to his crops.
“The heavily armed men interrogated him for more than 20 minutes, asking him about the security status in our area, including how many police and military camps are there. He told them the place is well-protected, having both GSU and KDF soldiers.
“After hearing the response, it’s like they were terrified. They told the farmer that they were not after war but they only wanted to take foodstuffs from the village. They then ordered him to go back to the village and allow them to harvest maize from the farm,” said Mr Golja.
According to the village headman, the farmer reported the matter to him and he in turn sent some police reservists to the scene.
A fire exchange ensued between the reservists and the terrorists.
A few minutes later, GSU and KDF officers manning the area responded.
“A serious gun fight between the KDF, GSU and NPR against the militants went on from 10.30pm until 3am when the militants were repulsed. They, however, managed to harvest almost all the maize in the one acre farm before they fled deep into the dense Boni Forest,” said Mr Golja.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia confirmed the gunfight in Pandanguo but said that the situation had been contained.
“There were gunshots in Pandanguo Village overnight. NPR officers in the village claimed to have spotted suspicious people in a nearby bush, forcing them to shoot randomly.
“KDF and GSU responded immediately and combed the area. Nothing was spotted. So far the area is cool and there is no need for alarm. I urge Pandanguo residents not to vacate their village since their security is guaranteed.”
The county commissioner appealed to residents of Pandanguo and Lamu as a whole to be vigilant and report any suspicious people or incidents for prompt action.
Locals who were interviewed by the Nation said they are worried that the terrorists might come back and attack.
Mrs Habona Musa called on the government to intensity security patrols in the area so that the enemies do not get a chance to attack them and kill innocent citizens.
“We’re told not to worry but we feel our village is unsafe. Yes, the terrorists have fled to the forest but you never know. We feel they might reorganise themselves afresh, come back and finish us. Let security patrols be intensified in our village,” said Mrs Musa.
There have been various cases of Al-Shabaab militants being spotted in the area in the past.
The militants have carried out many attacks in counties including Nairobi, Mombasa, Lamu, Mandera, Garissa and Wajir.
On September 24, 2018, 10 Al-Shabaab militants were killed while a dozen others escaped with gunshot wounds in an ambush on the militant’s hideout by KDF soldiers in Taksile in Pandanguo, Lamu West.
On November 18, 2018, four Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the same area.
On August 18, 2017, four people were beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Maleli village near Pandanguo.
On July 4, 2017, three police officers were killed in an attack by over 200 Al-Shabaab terrorists who attacked Pandanguo Police Station at around 5.30am.Two of the militants were killed before the others disappeared into the dense Boni Forest.
On July 14, 2014, a classroom was burnt by suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists who invaded Pandanguo village in Lamu West.
The militants also raided Pandanguo Dispensary where they took with them drugs before vandalising the facility.
They also harvested maize in a two-acre farm in the area before they fled into Boni Forest.
Amid a growing number of ambushes, security agencies have continued to fight the militants both locally and in Somalia.
President Uhuru Kenyatta says Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) will remain there until peace and stability are attained.
Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission. As a result, it has seen several brutal retaliatory attacks both in Somalia and in Kenya.
In Nairobi, five suspected terrorists were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of plotting an attack. They will be arraigned on Monday.
In Mombasa on Friday, President Kenyatta announced a fresh war against Al-Shabaab’s financiers and recruiters.
“We will respond robustly by mounting the operation against the operatives and sleeper cells especially in the North Eastern and Coast. I also expect officers to use proactive measures in dealing with the attackers,” he told a meeting of security bosses.