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Kipini border residents afraid after herders linked to al Shabaab pitch camp

Monday August 28, 2017

Herders asked to move from Lamu for the bombing of Boni Forest have pitched camp at the Kipini border of Lamu and Tana River counties.

They have caused fear in the area, following Operation Linda Boni director Joseph Kanyiri's warning that they may be militants masquerading as herders.

On August 18, Kanyiri asked all herders to take their animals away from the forest to allow bombings to flush out the terrorists.

He said those who defy the order will have no one to blame for the consequences

"It is hard to comprehend how herders who graze their livestock in the forest claim not to see any attackers or even their hideouts," he said, adding they are "probably part of the terror gang".

“The so-called herders must cooperate. They stay in the forest claiming to graze their livestock yet they claim not to see any terror camps or attackers who flee into it.

"We want them all out in the next 48 hours. We need to deal with this matter decisively so that we end it once and for all. There is very close similarity between the herders and terrorists and that’s why we want to sort them out. Locals must also stop helping these terrorists with food or anything else for that matter."

Following concerns by conservationists, Kanyiri told them human beings are more important than animals and plants.

People living at the border said they haven’t known peace since the herders arrived. They added they have been sleeping in bushes for fear of attacks.

Speaking at their homes on Sunday, they also said the herders have taken their animals to their farms and that they are afraid of asking them to leave.

Many are of the opinion their continued stay will result in more conflicts and even deaths yet they had been enjoying peace.

Residents have also threatened to hold demonstrations in a push for security agents to ask the herders to leave.

They said they "can't stand them" and that their number increases daily.

“They are suspected terrorists...you must understand how we feel. They should go back to their homes. We are worried the killings witnessed where they came from could start happening here," said Anthony Njuki.

"We don’t want to wait for that time to come. We are already sleeping in bushes because we know they normally attack at night. For how long will we go on like this?"

Many of the herders are from neighbouring Tana River, Garissa and Wajir counties.

Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said they will send police to pursue the herders and ensure they cross back into their respective counties.

Kitiyo said the order for them to leave still stands and that every foreign herder is to pack and head back to their counties, not the border, with their animals.

He asked residents to be patient, noting some have left and that the few "difficult elements who are still dilly dallying will soon be dealt with".


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