Survivors of the latest attack by suspected militants in Lamu County barricaded roads and burnt tyres as questions over the Governmentâ€™s handling of the matter emerged. Between June and July, nearly 100 people have died in attacks on three towns along Kenyaâ€™s northern coast in Lamu and Tana River counties. Somaliaâ€™s Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the raids, but the Government blamed the killings on politics of ethnicity.
The attackers have been able to disappear without trace, while the police have fled when they appear. In early June, the Government removed vital General Service Unit (GSU) stations at Nyongoro near Witu in Lamu and Kilelengwani and other parts of Tana River County. A 48-hour ultimatum to police to arrest or shoot dead the militia by Deputy President William Ruto passed quietly Tuesday. And Mpeketoni police have been accused of unilaterally setting free 16 suspected militiamen captured by residents, and escorting them to
â€œGo away. You are unable to protect us,â€ chanted enraged villagers as they poured out of a displacement camp onto the Hindi town street. â€œWe do not believe the Government is ready to protect us despite the assurance and provisions of the Constitution,â€ said John Wanjeru, a displaced middle-aged man who lost a relative in Sundayâ€™s massacre in Hindi. The protestors only dispersed when the paramilitary GSU arrived to clear the streets as Kenya Defence Forces special units landed in a military helicopter to protect displacement camps as others were deployed in forested areas where the attackers are alleged to be hiding. Wanjeru said bodies from Saturdayâ€™s violence were still at the Mpeketoni District Hospital mortuary. â€œPeople here are suffering as if they do not have a Government. Children are crying and women have been left destitute because their husbands have been killed or have run away,â€ said Pastor Danson Kariuki, a local pastor at the Free Pentecostal Church. Mayram Wairimu, who is also displaced said Tuesday that displaced people feel threatened more than ever following the emergence of fresh hate and eviction threats and leaflets.
â€œWe have received new threats to move out and leave this land. These are the same threats we received (on Saturday) and people were killed,â€ she said. The enraged and displaced victims have sought refuge at the Hindi Prison grounds, which is now hosting 2,500 people. They said they have been without food and shelter, bedding and fresh water since Sunday, when they began pouring into the compound from nearby forests and bushes where they hid after they were attacked. Most residents wondered why Deputy President William Rutoâ€™s ultimatum to the security forces to capture the killers dead or alive within 48 hours had yielded little.
Things got worse Tuesday morning with the emergence of fresh leaflets urging â€œsettlersâ€ and â€œChristiansâ€ to leave Hindi, and were compounded by allegations that policemen fled the when the attackers raided Amu Ranch in the area at 1.00am Tuesday. The residents were annoyed when a local District Officer told them that the Government could not supply food to them because the manager of the local National Cereals and Produce Board NCPB depot at Mokowe has been out of town for days attending a burial. Meanwhile, security officials and prison authorities openly told them that their security at the camp could not be guaranteed as the facility itself is a target for the attackers.
The officials telephoned those who lost relatives in Saturdayâ€™s carnage asking them to collect the bodies from Mpeketoni District Hospital mortuary although no transport was available. They were told the Government would meet the burial cost. The arrest of 45 villagers in Tana River County, including three Islamic teachers, over Saturdayâ€™s raid on Gamba police station, sparked claims of persecution of the Galjaâ€™al Somali tribe. Local officials in Mpeketoni and Tana River said 60 suspects had been arrested over the police station attack, but none in relation to the Hindi violence. Hindi District Officer Stanley Mutua fled after the displaced residents got rowdy as he was trying to address them.
There were between five and six police officers manning the ranch. They ran away when the attackers arrived,â€ said the DO. Peter Pkemei, the head officer at Hindi prison, said the displaced residents seeking refuge at his station had swelled to 2,500 in number since Sunday â€œand we are overwhelmed, but are determined to cope with the situationâ€. â€œWe have asked the County Commissioner to assist, but since Sunday, no help has arrived,â€ he said referring to lack of Government food, water and related aid. On Monday, a Kenya Red Cross official told The Standard that Government officials fear a large civilian presence at the prison would attract militia attacks.
Pkemei said the camp is running low on food, water and other basic items. A village elder, Mr Ndayo Ahmed said that among those missing are four sheikhs in charge of local madrasas and seven schoolchildren. â€We do not know where they (police) have taken them and wonder why they only targeted our village in their security operation and left other neighbouring villages,â€ Ahmed said. Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) Tana River County field officer, Twalib Abdalah, said that they had information on alleged police brutality