Tension is high in Witho, Majembeni, Mkunumbi, Nyatha, Kaisari, Mavuno, Poromoko and surrounding villages in Lamu West following the killing of six people by suspected Al-Shabaab militants who attacked Witho village on Sunday night.
Several houses were torched during the 10pm attack which was orchestrated by over 30 heavily armed militants.
A police report seen by Nation.Africa revealed that those killed include the owner of Murimi Mangwe local liquor den, John Murimi, and his three casuals, Peter Musyoka, Maina Wanjege, and Peter Maina. The four had their hands tied from behind before they were torched inside the liquor den by the militants.
Others are Joseph Mwangi, a Witho village elder, who was stabbed with a knife in the stomach and beheaded at his home before his house was torched.
The sixth victim is Francis Kamau who had earlier gone missing early Sunday morning only for his body to be found with gunshot wounds along the road within Witho shopping centre on Monday morning.
Appeals to Matiang’i
Security officers who came to Witho to ferry the six bodies to the Mpeketoni Sub-County Hospital mortuary on Monday had a rough time trying to calm an angry crowd that had vowed not to allow the bodies to be removed until Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i visits the area and assures them of their security.
Police, however, managed to take six bodies to the Mpeketoni Hospital mortuary after hours of delay.
Locals interviewed by Nation.Africa at the scene of the attack expressed fear of spending their nights in the village, saying that the militants might come back and conduct more attacks and killings.
John Kimani wondered why the state has been conducting a multi-agency security Operation Amani Boni (OAB) yet Al-Shabaab are finding ways to cross into Lamu and conduct attacks and killings in the villages.
“We wonder why the government has been conducting security operations in Lamu yet Al-Shabaab still cross into our villages and kill citizens. We are worried. We won’t sleep here unless CS Matiang’i comes and assures us of our security,” said Mr Kimani.
Several families had by Monday afternoon begun fleeing their homes to Mpeketoni and Kibaoni towns for fear of attacks in the remote villages.
Ms Alice Safari urged the government to tame the insecurity in the region in order to the loss of lives at the hands of Al-Shabaab militants.
Call for more security camps
She also pleaded with the government to increase the number of military and police camps in remote and terror-prone areas of Lamu.
Lamu leaders led by Governor Fahim Twaha condemned the Sunday night attack and asked the state to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.
“We have learned with shock and dismay about the atrocities committed against innocent people in Widho this morning. We send our heartfelt condolences to the victims of these crimes. It is our hope that the criminals will be apprehended soon. We are certain they will face God's justice in this world and in the hereafter,” said Mr Twaha.
Contacted, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia assured the residents of their security, adding that enough officers had been deployed to Witho and areas near Boni Forest to pursue the terrorists.
“We have increased patrols everywhere. At the same time, we have launched a massive crackdown on the killers, especially in areas towards Boni Forest. We still suspect the killers to be Al-Shabaab terrorists. Let’s be calm as investigations are on,” said Mr Macharia.
This is not the first time that suspected Al-Shabaab militants have killed innocent citizens in Lamu.
On the night of June 15, 2014, a group of heavily armed Al-Shabaab militants invaded Mpeketoni and Kibaoni towns and massacred over 100 men, torched over 50 houses and over 30 vehicles.