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Govt steps up efforts to rescue 5 missing Kenyans

13 October 2014, 08:11

Lamu - A combined team of Kenya Defence Force (KDF) and the police on Sunday mounted extensive operation to hunt down and rescue five Kenyans abducted by Al- Shabaab militia in the coastal town of Lamu.

Lamu County Commissioner Njenga Miiri said the operation has been extended into Somalia where gunmen are believed to be holding hostage the five Kenyans who were kidnapped in Kiunga border on Friday.

Miiri told Xinhua that a combined security forces are pursuing the suspects believed to more than 10 heavily-armed militants.

The ground and aerial security operation is being conducted also in the vast Boni forest near the Kenya-Somalia border, which the militants have been using as their hideout.

According to police, the five were in two vehicles transporting the miraa (khat) to Kiunga and were carjacked between Mangai and Basuba area near Kiunga border to Somalia. A police source said that the kidnappers abandoned the two vehicles after they realized that the security agencies' helicopter was pursuing them.

The kidnappings happened on a day the KDF launched fierce attacks on the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, killing more than 60 militiamen on Friday.

Also read: KDF enhances assault on Al Shabaab in Somalia

Miiri said the security agencies are contemplating banning night transport of miraa in Lamu County until security is restored in the troubled region, which saw more than 90 people killed and several others injured in June and July.

He said the security agencies are concerned over the new trend of kidnappings now targeting miraa dealers.

"We are meeting as security committee to deliberate on the alternative measures to prevent such incidents from happening. It appears the khat dealers are now becoming soft target for militants," Miiri said.

Kenya is reeling from a spate of terrorist attacks targeting innocent civilians in places of worship, shopping malls and restaurants.

Lamu County is still under on a 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew following rising insecurity that has claimed many lives and left property destroyed. The dusk-to-dawn curfew will remain in force until Oct. 23, according to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

Kimaiyo also directed that Boni and adjacent forests remain prohibited areas, saying any person found there will be dealt with firmly as per the law.

Kenya has been at a verge of terrorism threats by extremists allied to Al-Shabaab militia after its forces took control of the insurgents' stronghold in Somalia.

The police have also admitted that despite a boost in security the threat remained, urging Kenyans and shopping malls to remain vigilant and to "do more" to prevent attacks.

 - Xinhua

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