A suspected al-Shabaab attack in Lamu left 2 people dead and at least 3 others missing. Armed with semiautomatic weapons, the assailants targeted vehicles headed towards Mokowe in the Milihoi area.
Lamu, KENYA. By Yahya:
Two passengers of the targeted vehicle escaped. Three others were reported missing after the militants attacked their car on the same highway. The vehicle reportedly veered off the road when it tried to escape. As investigations continue, security remains a top priority in the region. Local authorities responded to the attack, sending a response team to track down the militants.
Spate of Lamu attacks
About 60 al-Shabaab militants ambushed unsuspecting civilians two weeks ago around 7.40 am along the Lamu-Witu-Garsen highway. They first shot at a government prison car en route to Mombasa from Lamu. Luckily, it sped away. Subsequently, the militants fired at a vehicle carrying a Hindi Member of the County Assembly (MCA), James Njaaga, and his family. Tragically, Mr Njaaga’s wife sustained a severe injury and died on the way to the hospital.
The government reported neutralising the terrorists. However, while Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki assured the nation of the successful operation, he failed to present any tangible evidence.
Tourist season lost
The timing of these assaults has baffled stakeholders. Lamu, a coastal gem, typically experiences a surge in tourism during July and August. Its pristine shores and cultural richness attract domestic and international travellers seeking solace. However, this year presents a contrasting image.
Ali Shekuwe, a local hotel owner, told the Star about a noticeable decline in visitors compared to previous years. He attributes this decline to the sense of insecurity provoked by mainland attacks, even though Lamu Island and its neighbouring Shella Island remain relatively untouched. Shekuwe sadly contrasts this year’s meagre bookings to the thriving business he enjoyed last year.
“The attacks reported every time are conducted in the mainland areas… Unfortunately, once tourists out there hear that there is an attack in Lamu, they feel Lamu, Shella, and the rest of the archipelago have been attacked,” Shekuwe laments. This harmful association has a ripple effect on the livelihoods of those dependent on tourism.