Victims of Lamu attacks buried under tight security

The burial of 45-year-old Francis Kamau at Salama area within Widho village in Mpeketoni,Lamu West on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

Photo credit: Kalumekazungu | Nation Media Group

Thirteen victims of the recent attacks in Lamu County have been buried.

The burials took place in Widho, Salama, Hongwe-Msafuni, Muhamarani, Juhudi and Marafa villages in Lamu under tight security from both the police and the military.

Since the beginning of this month, locals in the villages have been terrorised by armed bandits who have been raiding the villages, torching houses and stealing household items.

In all the burials that Nation.Africa attended on Tuesday and Wednesday, calls to improve security in the remote villages took centre stage.

At Salama area within Widho village where Francis Kamau, 45, was laid to rest, the burial was attended by a limited number of mourners after dozens of villagers fled the area and pitched camp at the Shalom Academy in Kibaoni town for fear of attacks.

Mr Kamau was among six people who were killed by the bandits who raided Widho on the night of January 2 this year.

The deceased had earlier been abducted by the militants as he cut trees in the nearby forest on January 1, only for his body to be found with gunshot wounds along the road within Widho shopping centre on January 3.

Addressing mourners during the Tuesday afternoon burial, area MCA Paul Kimani condemned the ongoing attacks witnessed in his Mkunumbi Ward villages, which have left the 13 people.

The victims, who include police officers, were killed in a span of one week.

“We want security to be beefed up in these villages to curb the frequent insecurity incidents that have left 13 people dead and houses torched. If an RDU camp can be established in the Ukumbi area within Juhudi village, it will bring an end to these attacks,” said Mr Kimani.

Speaking during the burial of John Murimi that took place at Msafuni village, Hongwe Ward MCA James Komu stressed the need for the number of National Police Reservists (NPR) to be increased in villages to help fight insecurity.

Mr Murimi was also among the six people that were killed at Widho village on the night of January 2 this year.

He was the owner of Murimi Mangwe, a local liquor den that was operating in Widho Village.

Mr Murimi and his three casuals, Peter Musyoka, Maina Wanjege and Peter Maina were attacked by the armed bandits at around 10pm as they slept inside the liquor den.

The attackers tied their hands from behind before torching the den they were trapped in.

Iissues to do with terrorism

Mr Komu expressed concern that many NPR officers in Lamu have retired and are yet to be replaced.

“You can imagine from Hongwe to Sese villages, the place is extremely vast but we only have like two to four NPRs. These people also double up as security guards for institutions like schools. My prayer is for the government to recruit more locals here as reservists and arm them effectively to assist the police and military deal with these criminals killing our people and causing mayhem,” said Mr Komu.

Speaking during another burial of victims of bandit attacks at Widho Village, Lamu senatorial aspirant in the forthcoming general election, Francis Mugo, appealed to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Land counterpart Farida Karoney to urgently visit Lamu to investigate land issues and ensure they are effectively resolved.

“Even if we have had issues to do with terrorism in our county, I feel the land issue is to some extent contributing to the Lamu insecurity. People have no title deeds, a situation that is being taken advantage of by the enemy to cause animosity amongst the Lamu communities,” said Mr Mugo.

Other victims of Lamu banditry attacks buried this week include Widho village elder Joseph Mwangi and 62-year-old John Gichoya, a Nyumba Kumi official at Bobo-Sunkia village in Hindi Division.

The bodies of the two were ferried to Murang’a County and Kimende village in Kiambu County for burial.

The late Mwangi was among the six people killed by armed men at Widho village on January 2 this year.

He was stabbed with a knife in the stomach and beheaded at his homestead before his house was torched.

On the other hand, Mzee Gichoya’s homestead at Bobo-Sunkia village in Hindi Ward was raided by more than 30 armed men at around 11pm on January 4.

Mr Gichoya was cut on the leg before the bandits burnt him inside his house.

There was also a sombre mood at Muhamarani village in Mpeketoni, Lamu West when Mzee Kipkoloi Mwaura, who was among the two elderly men killed by armed bandits at Juhudi/Marafa village on Sunday, January 9, this year, was laid to rest.

The body of the other victim, Titus Muoki, was ferried to Makueni early this week for burial.

At the same village of Muhamarani, Maina Wanjege, a victim who died during the January 2 banditry attacks in Lamu was also laid to rest.

Mourners who attended the burials called for the arrests or capture of the militants to deter such incidents.

“We urge the security agencies to intensify crackdowns for the perpetrators of these heinous attacks and ensure such acts are totally eliminated in Lamu,” said Ms Mary Wambugu.

Mr Julius Mwangi, a resident of Juhudi village, urged security agents to do more.

Other victims of the attacks are the four GSU officers killed at Milihoi on January 7 this year when their land cruiser was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Their bodies were immediately airlifted to Nairobi for burial arrangements at their respective homes.

During his visit to Kibaoni Town where displaced families have taken refuge, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia assured that security had been intensified across the region with a heavy concentration of forces in all the villages that have witnessed attacks and killings in the county.

“There is adequate security and our forces are alert. We are still pursuing the attackers and we shall not relent until they are defeated,” said Macharia.

He urged members of the public to cooperate with security agencies by volunteering any useful information that will help defeat the enemy in the region.

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