Kenya security forces routed Al Shabaab raiders who had hijacked a Principal secretary and five others in Lamu county, rescuing the PS and repulsing the attackers. Public Works PS Maryam El Maawy had been hijacked at about 3pm at Milihoi area, Witu in Lamu county by members of the ragtag militia who intercepted a vehicle that she and her security team were driving in.
Gallant Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers and commandos from the General Service Unit (GSU) who were alerted of the incident pursued them deep into Boni forest both on land and air.
Within one hour, El Maawy was rescued after a fierce gun battle with the bandits. During the operation, three police officers were reportedly killed while El Maawy was injured on one shoulder and both legs.
It was believed that several members of the militia gang were shot and escaped with bullet wounds. KDF spokesman Col Joseph Awouth said El Maawy was rescued in the operation and the body of one man recovered. He added that the vehicle rolled and burst into flames as it was being pursued by security officers.
El Maawy was rushed to Mpeketoni Sub-County Hospital for treatment but was expected to be airlifted to Nairobi for specialised care. The PS was travelling in a Toyota Prado with four police officers and her driver headed to Witu after attending a Lamu Port stakeholders meeting when the ambush occurred.
The three officers who died were in her vehicle but the fate of the fourth officer had not yet been immediately established. El Maawy was expected to visit families who have fled their homes in Jima and Pandanguo following recent attacks. The families have been camping at Witu Primary School.
The attacks coincided with a high level security meeting that was led by Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa in Mpeketoni. Coast regional police commander Larry Kieng confirmed the rescue of the PS saying security forces were still pursuing the raiders. “What I can confirm is that we have managed to rescue the PS.
The operation is still going on in the area,” said Kieng. A joint security operation was immediately launched on air and land resulting in heavy exchange of gun fire that forced the militants to flee.
On Monday, Marwa said the government had intensified airstrikes in Boni forest to flush out militants. Earlier, the militants had abducted a loader of a lorry heading to Lamu. Marwa and other top government officials declined to speak to the media on the incident and instead headed to Mpeketoni Hospital to visit El Maawy.