Suspected al-Shabaab militants in Kenya’s Lamu County killed one person and destroyed several homes. The extremists carried out the assault during the late hours of Tuesday. As per the latest reports, the assailants remain at large as law enforcement agencies have not made any arrests yet.
Salama, Widhu area, Lamu County, KENYA. By Yahya:
The attack took place just one night before Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s scheduled visit to neighbouring Tana River County. The incident represents the latest development in a series of violent events in the region, which authorities attribute to the militant al-Shabaab.
To tackle these security challenges, authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in specific localities, including Salama, Juhudi, Widhu Marafa, Mashogoni, and Ukumbi in Lamu West. These measures form part of a broader strategy to counter al-Shabaab, which frequently uses the dense Boni Forest as a hideout.
Al-Shabaab militants have recently targeted areas near the Kenyan border, employing both firearms and explosives. The attacks resulted in casualties and injuries and led to suspending plans to reopen the Kenya-Somalia border. Moreover, the violence has also disrupted various development projects in the North Eastern Kenyan regions.
The situation in Lamu requires coordinated counter-insurgency efforts involving well-equipped teams and robust counter-intelligence. The latter seems to be the most pressing challenge. Al-Shabaab sleeper cells have deeply infiltrated the local community. Their vast intelligence network enables them to conduct extensive surveillance on Kenyan security forces. When the right time comes, typically after weeks of relative calm, they strike.
The insufficiency of human counter-intelligence, requiring broad support to the security agencies from local communities, is probably the most burning issue. Indeed, even if Kenya had better-equipped and trained security forces, it would need to focus more on this aspect. Without having the local population on its side, it will be extremely difficult to ultimately root out al-Shabaab’s operatives, supporters or sympathisers from the region.