Residents of Pandaguo Village in Lamu are living in fear after a 22-year-old man Monday reported to have come into contact with suspected Al-Shabaab militants when he went to harvest honey in Boni Forest.
Mr Musa Genje said he found himself in the hands of six heavily armed men who harassed him and even threatened to kidnap him but later released him.
“I had left my home in Pandanguo Village to go into the forest to harvest honey. About two kilometres from the village, I spotted 6 men who were heavily armed.
“They were wearing old military uniforms and their heads were masked. They ordered me to lie down. After a few minutes they commanded me to stand and go back where I was coming from without looking back,” said Mr Genje told theNation by phone.
“The men also gave me a strong message to deliver to the Kenya Defence Forces that the militants exist and that the KDF should be ready to face them,” he added.
Following the incident, tension was high among residents of Pandanguo and Jima villages.
The villages are occupied by over a 1000 locals from the marginalised Boni communities.
VILLAGERS FLEE HOMES
Confirming the incident, a local administrator who talked to the Nation by phone and requested not to be named as he is not allowed to speak to the press, said some villagers even opted to spend the night in the bushes rather than in their homesteads for fear being attacked by the militants.
“It is very true. One of our youth in Pandanguo Village had left to go and harvest honey in the forest. It was around 10.30am.
“He saw six armed men who harassed him before they released him. The issue has brought tension in our two villages, Pandanguo and Jima. As we speak, some residents have already gone into hiding in the nearby bushes.
“They now view their homesteads as uninhabitable zones especially after receiving the news of presence of the suspicious armed men in the area.
“They are scared that if they decide to sleep in their houses, the terrorists might find them and kill them,” said the administrator.
He called on the government to enhance security patrols in the entire Pandanguo Village and areas bordering the vast Boni Forest, which is believed to be the hiding place for Al-Shabaab.
On November 16, 2015 Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers participating in the Operation Linda Boni recovered six guns and 27 rounds of ammunition which were hidden by unknown people in a forest in Pandanguo.
On July 12, 2014, about 50 armed Al-Shabaab militants raided Pandanguo and Jima villages where they stormed a mosque in Pandanguo and preached for three hours to the Muslims who had gone for their morning prayers.
They then took away with them six guns belonging to the Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) operating in the area.