Star (Kenya)

‘What’s a few trees compared to lives?’

Aug. 26, 2017, 12:00 am

Inspector general  of police Joseph Boinnet with other senior security personnel during a tour of Boni forest  in Lamu county to inspect the operation Linda Boni meant to flush out  Al Shabaab militants on June 15,2016
Inspector general of police Joseph Boinnet with other senior security personnel during a tour of Boni forest in Lamu county to inspect the operation Linda Boni meant to flush out Al Shabaab militants on June 15,2016

Operation Linda Boni director Joseph Kanyiri has asked civil society groups and activists in Lamu to stop interfering with its activities.

He said some members of Save Lamu and Lamu County Wildlife Conservation Committee have been making utterances that disparage the operation.

The two groups have opposed the ongoing bombing of the forest. They say it will destroy the forest’s immense flora and fauna and destroy the livelihoods of the Aweer community.

The Aweer are traditionally hunters and gatherers and depend on the forest for survival.

Last week, Kanyiri said the state will bomb the forest to destroy Al Shabaab hideouts located deep within it.

Speaking in his office in Lamu on Friday, he said activists and conservationists in the county have opposed every single proposition by the government in the war on terror, and specifically, Al Shabaab.

Kanyiri said his priority is Lamu’s security. He asked why the activists and conservationists are more concerned about trees and animals when tens of lives of civilians and soldiers have been lost at the hands of Al Shabaab.

“I cannot comprehend why someone feels when a number of trees are destroyed in order to save a thousand lives. In fact they should be supporting the course,” he said.

“This is serious business and that’s why am asking activists and conservationists to stick their necks elsewhere. We’re here to protect lives and end terrorism and that will happen at any cost.”

Kanyiri said only Al Shabaab hideouts deep in the forest are targetted and these are far away from human settlements.

“The Aweer community remains intact and their lives go on [as usual], after all, the bombing is happening thousands of miles away from their habitats,” he said.

“The bombing shall go on and whoever doesn’t like it should come out and tell us better reasons and not rumours. Many of those talking seem not to have an understanding of what exactly is going on. They should come and ask us.”

Meanwhile, residents have started moving out of their homes to get out of the bombs way.

Kanyiri said herders have also heeded the call to move out of the forest.

He said the bombing will go on until the last Al Shabaab hideout is destroyed.