At least three police officers were yesterday killed in an attack by Al-Shabaab terrorists in the coastal city of Lamu.
Seven other officers were missing at the end of the Pandaguo Police Post raid by more than 200 terrorists.
Two of the militants were killed before the others disappeared into the dense Boni Forest. The United Kingdom warned its citizens against all but essential travel to Lamu County, citing the attack. The travel alert excludes Lamu and Manda islands.
“If you travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island, you should do so by air to Manda Airport and not by road,” the UK said in a statement.
The attackers attempted to torch the police post, looted the local health centre and destroyed a telecommunication mast.
Yesterday, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and other security personnel in the Linda Boni Operation were in hot pursuit of the terrorists through land and air strikes.
There was a heavy presence of security personnel in Pandaguo Village and its environs with Kenya Air Force helicopters hovering in the air.
The terrorists had reportedly planned to hit the police post three days ago, but delayed their mission after the military learnt of the plans and laid an ambush.
A convoy of military vehicles left Pandaguo a day before the attack. At least six primary schools in Witu Division were closed early yesterday and asked pupils to return home following the raid. They are Kakate, Maleli, Rehema, Furaha, Sendemke and Soroko primary schools. Pupils told journalists they had been asked to vacate the institutions following the attack as security personnel pursued terrorists.
At Witu Hospital, four ambulances were awaiting clearance from security personnel to go to the scene of the attack to evacuate survivors. The battle between the terrorists and the police lasted for more than seven hours, Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet said.
The fight began at 5.30am and was still going on by 1.30pm, Mr Boinnet told journalists in Nairobi.
He spoke after chairing a meeting of senior police commanders and other security agencies involved in the upcoming elections.
Linda Boni Operation director James ole Seriani separately said enough security officers had been deployed to Pandanguo to hunt down the attackers.
He said the terrorists had attempted to torch Pandanguo Police Post but met fierce fire from police officers in the area.
The officers are part of the inter-agency Operation Linda Boni aimed at ridding the expansive Boni Forest of the Somalia-based terrorists.
The fighters are believed to camp, train, organise and coordinate their attacks from the dense forest that straddle the Kenya-Somalia border.
Mr Seriani said the situation was under control since security agents— including the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Kenya Police, Administration Police and other units— had been deployed to pursue the attackers.
He dismissed reports that some villagers at Pandanguo had been taken hostage by the suspected terrorists.
He, however, confirmed that those who are missing were villagers who fled after the attackers invaded the village.
This is not the first time that Pandanguo Village is being attacked by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
On July 14, 2014, a classroom was burnt down by the suspected terrorists.
They also took with them drugs from the Pandanguo Dispensary before vandalising it.