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Al-Shabaab Set Up Camp In Boni Forest

Storyline:National News

Al-ShababAl-Shabaab militants have set up permanent bases in the vast Boni Forest, where they live with their families, the Star has learnt.

The militants and their wives and children hunt game for food and use water from several rivers in the forest.

The disclosure came a day after militants ambushed a police van in Lamu, killing five people, including officers, with an improvised explosive device, and escaped.

The attack has also been linked to one of the suspects currently in court, Khalid Mohamed Ali, with the government implying that it was carried out with the sole intention of killing a number of witnesses in another criminal case against Al-Shabaab suspects.

In one of the documents filed in court, senior prosecution counsel at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions Daniel Wamotsa says a number of incidents on May 13 offered them new and compelling evidence that the terror gang is still within Boni Forest, where Mohamed was accused of offering supplies.

After the multiple attacks in different parts of Lamu, the militants retreat to their ‘bases’, which are inaccessible to the Kenya Defence Forces and other security personnel.

The militants have been taking advantage of the assumption that, after the attacks, they usually sneak back into Somalia through the dense forest. The over 160km-wide forest has been home and a source of livelihood for centuries for the Boni, who are hunter-gatherers.

The forest borders the Indian Ocean and stretches all the way to the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu and onward to Hulugho in Garissa.

Due to the sizeable population of the Boni community, the forest has been and remains densely populated, with not less than 600 households in each of the three locations – Hindi, Basuba and Witu.

The Boni and the Wasanye communities have been in the forest for years and have attached cultural and social links with it, making it difficult for them to leave. There is a shrine in a part of the forest in the vicinity of which they believe, when attacked by enemies, that they vanish into thin air or turn into animals, making it difficult for them to be detected.

Source: The Star