Kenya plans to construct a ‘cutline’ to protect villagers from al-Shabaab fighters hiding in the infamous Boni Forest. On Saturday, 26 August, the Defence Cabinet Secretary toured Kenya’s Lamu County for security meetings with local leaders. Aden Duale placed al-Shabaab sympathizers in Lamu County on notice, revealing an ongoing intelligence-led operation.
Lamu County, KENYA. By Yahya:
The operation aims to identify and apprehend those who provide information, transportation, and supplies to al-Shabaab cells in Boni Forest. Moreover, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) will construct six security roads in and around Boni Forest, along with a 42-kilometre cutline that will separate human settlements from the dense forest. Both the Defence and Interior Ministries will designate these areas as disturbed regions. Anyone crossing the cutline will receive treatment as a terrorist.
Residents conveyed their hardships directly to Duale. “On 24 June, I personally saw my child being murdered in front of me by extremists. They entered my home, identifying themselves as al-Shabaab, with the intent to kill. My son was only 19 years old and had just returned from Bakaja High School, where he was in his third year. They killed him and burned all my possessions as I watched. Everything I have now, including these clothes, I borrowed,” recounted one resident.
Boni Forest: The militants’ safe haven
The residents articulated their concerns regarding the implementation of security measures against the extremists. They pointed out that locals are invariably caught when they err, whereas militants, despite their numbers, vanish into Boni like ghosts. Duale presented the cutline as the solution, emphasizing its potential to significantly bolster the security of the volatile coastal county. Those found on the wrong side of the cutline will face the law. The construction of the six roads will aim to expose al-Shabaab hideouts in Boni and facilitate the establishment of military bases in the area.
The Boni Forest, near Kenya’s border with Somalia, has become a notorious hotbed of al-Shabaab activity. The dense forest’s secluded terrain provides an ideal hideout for the extremist group, allowing them to carry out their operations with relative impunity. Over the years, the region has witnessed multiple attacks on nearby villages and towns by al-Shabaab, resulting in significant security concerns for Kenyan authorities and local communities.