Bandits raid Lamu villages, slaughter goats and torch houses

John Elungata

Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata. He has promised to beef up security in Lamu and stop attacks.

Photo credit: Kazungu Kalume | Nation Media Group

Bandit attacks in Lamu County have continued despite an assurance by the government to ensure no attacks are witnessed in Lamu.

While responding to the killing of two elderly people in Juhudi/Marafa areas in Mpeketoni Division, Lamu West, at his office in Mombasa on Monday, Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata said security agencies had discovered the loophole that the enemy has been taking advantage of to attack, kill innocent citizens and destroy property in Lamu.

Mr Elungata said that enough security agencies, including the military and police, had been deployed in all attack-prone areas to seal the ‘loophole’. He assured residents that the bandits will no longer get a chance to attack, kill Lamu citizens or destroy property.

“We have put the military and police in all attack-prone regions and there is nothing to worry about,” said Mr Elungata.

But on Tuesday morning, armed bandits raided Mashogoni and Githurai Villages within Mpeketoni Division in Lamu West where they torched two houses in the 5.30 am attack.

Local administrators and residents told Nation.Africa that the bandits slaughtered two goats which they cooked and ate before shooting in the air several times to scare locals as they fled into the nearby forest.

Lurking freely

Mr Emmanuel Kimani Wanyoike, a resident, questioned why the government was unable to flush out the criminals from Lamu. Mashogoni and Githurai areas, where the bandits raided on Tuesday morning, border a Kenya Defense Forces military camp at Tabasamu area.

“We feel unsafe, how can bandits raid a village, torch houses, take time to slaughter goats, cook and eat meals and leave without being spotted by our security forces? We expect these criminals to be arrested so that we can have our peace and freedom,” said Mr Wanyoike.

Mr Samuel Kariuki, an elder in Mashogoni village questioned why security agencies in Lamu were taking too long to respond to attacks.

According to Mr Kariuki who escaped the wrath of the armed bandits by hiding in a bush after they were ambushed on Tuesday at dawn, the attackers stayed in the village from 5.30 am until 7 am before escaping into the forest after realising the security agencies were pursuing them.

“I took my wife and children to Kibaoni on Monday after the bandits killed two elderly people in neighbouring villages of Juhudi and Marafa,” said Mr Kariuki.

He added, “From where I was hiding, I could see houses being torched. They torched a motorbike in our village. They also cooked, ate, and stayed there for several hours before going into the forest at around 7 am.”

Ms Jane Mweni called on the government to restore security in Lamu. She said the bandits were heard complaining about their land being grabbed.

Al-Shabaab militants

 “Some of the attackers say they are members of Al-Shabaab militants. Sometimes they claim to have come to our villages to repossess their land, the government should investigate the reasons behind these heinous attacks and killings,” said Ms Mweni.

Contacted, Lamu County Commissioner, Irungu Macharia said he was headed to the scene of the attack at Mashogoni and promised to give details of the attack later.

The Lamu attacks, which started on January 2, have so far left 13 people dead and more than 10 houses torched by the armed bandits in Widho, Bobo-Sunkia, Milihoi, and Juhudi/Marafa, all in Lamu West Sub-County.

For the past one week, tension has also been high in all the affected villages. This has led to more than 200 families seeking refuge at Kibaoni and Majembeni towns for fear of being attacked by the bandits.

Schools such as Juhudi and Salama have also missed pupils and teachers this week, some of which have migrated to Kibaoni and Majembeni.

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