We are Al-Shabaab and will be back soon, armed attackers tell petrified residents in Kenya
Lamu, Kenya: On Monday July 7, attackers struck at the recreational facilities of Amu Ranch Co-operative Society at Milihoi, near Hindi and destroyed property of unknown value.
They also took foodstuffs but did not kill anyone. And on Thursday night, around 10 o’clock, armed militants surrounded Pandanguao village in Witu Location, a remote area on the edge of the great Boni Forest.
The attackers, numbering between 100 and 200, according to the villagers, surrounded the local mosque when they were just about to finish the day’s last prayers.
Inside the mosque, performing their religious obligations even in times of duty, were six Kenya Police Reservists with their ancient guns on their hands.
The attackers ordered the worshippers to file out and sit down outside the mosque and went round collecting other people from their houses.
“The asked, ‘how many tribes are here’,” said Jamal Shafi, who was seated next to one of them. “We told them we are only one tribe,” he said. The majority of the residents of Pandanguo are Aweir Boni and almost all of them practice Islam.
The attackers seemed not satisfied and they went around trying to pick out suspicious faces. The attackers were a little bit miffed by the failure to find the people they were looking for – and for a good reason.
About a kilometre away, they had set ablaze a house belonging to Francis Chege, a former councillor from Hongwe.
His six workers were all Christians and the “wrong” tribes, if such a term may be used to refer to non-indigenous communities that have made Lamu their home.
The six workers escaped death by a whisker. Apparently the attackers had descended on neighbouring Jima village at around eight O’clock in the evening on their way to Pandanguo.
“As they left Jima, a friend of mine called and informed me that the attackers were on their way and they were heavily armed,” said Mr Herbert Khakiyanga, a worker at the Mr Chege’s farm.
They were about to sit down for supper but they left the food on the stove and took off. About 10 minutes later they saw their boss’s house on fire.
It seems after failing to find their intended targets, the band of fighters came to Pandanguo, perhaps in the hope of finding them there.
Now upset at the failure to locate them, they unleashed their misplaced fury on the local nursery school which served hundreds of pupils from the local villages.
They also ransacked the local dispensary and made away with drugs and mosquito nets. Meanwhile, they continued quizzing the KPRs.
At some point in the night, one of them came with a video camera and told the six officers to hold them as he filmed.
They then took the guns away. “They asked the officers: “Which ones do you value? Your souls or your guns?” The officers said our souls.
They then let them free and took their guns,” said Mr Shumelo.
According to residents of Pandanguo, the attackers wore jungle-green uniforms, similar to the ones worn by the Administration Police or the military.
Witnesses have said so far that the attackers seem to be a mixture of Somali and people who speak Swahili, English, Arabic as well as local indigenous languages. The attackers said they were Al Shabaab fighters.
“They spoke Somali, English and Kiswahili,” said Mr Musa Guyo, who conversed with one of them. They left a message on a board at the village which, according to Mr Guyo read like this.
“KDF is in Somalia and we are here. Once you pull out, we will go back. KDF knows how to run but cannot hide.” They told the petrified residents that they would be back soon.
At around three o’clock on Friday morning they departed for their hideout in the forest. Security officials arrived in a military helicopter at four O’clock in the morning, an hour too late. They took the board, and left with the six KPRs to pursue the attackers.