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Terror attacks halt works on crucial Lapsset project


by CYRUS OMBATI
Tuesday January 24, 2023


KDF A KDF soldier on patrol in Lamu.Image: FILE:

Terrorism is slowing progress.

Rising terror attacks have forced security bosses to suspend construction of a crucial road linking Kenya and South Sudan.

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Workers on the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project were last week told works had been suspended for six weeks to allow security agencies time to address the problem of insecurity.

Those who had been off duty were told not to report back until after six weeks,while those in the four construction camps were told to stay indoors for now.

Multi-agency teams are now combing the area in a major operation

The death toll sine September is at least 30 and construction works are a favourite project.

There have been seven attacks since December 8 targeting the project workers and property leaving at least 15 people dead and destroying valuables.

The latest incident happened on January 17 when a convoy carrying the workers escorted by military personnel were attacked. Insiders said six people died.

At least 14 people have died since then.

The attack happened at Algeis Malhadhon Adam area near Bodhai police camp.

Three vehicles were damaged after being hit by explosives.

On January 11 four road engineers were killed when their vehicle was blown up by an explosive fired by the al-Shabaab militants.

The workers were inspecting the road project when they came under attack in Bura East sub county.

On December 21, three people including two police officers were killed between the Hayley Lapset Camp and Garissa in similar attacks.

On December 30, the terrorists set an explosive device on the road in  Mlima Faru in Lamu that killed one soldier and injured five others when their vehicle  ran over it.

Workers at the sites say the camps have been targeted three times while there have been four ambushes on the road.

They blame lack of protective vehicles for the soldiers failure to protecting them from the attacks.

“They stopped using the protective vehicles in patrolling the road before we pass as it used to be. This has not happened since December when we have had the attacks,” said one worker.

Multi agency teams have since been sent to the area to address the problem.

They are pacifying the nearby Boni Forest to root out the terrorists operating there.

Security sources said the teams have made significant moves in the operation and recovered weapons after killing dozens of militants.

“You will be informed more on the operation. The teams are doing a good job,”  a senior officer said.

The terrorists are targeting projects including the Lapsset port and road.

A Chinese company is constructing the Bura-Garissa road connecting Tana River and Kilifi counties.

The road will lead to Garissa, Isiolo and later to Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The construction comprises a 257 km Lamu-Ijara-Garissa section, which is part of the Lapsset project.

The project is almost 60 per cent complete now, officials said adding the attacks are delaying their targets.

Also, the 113-kilometer Hindi-Bodhei-Basuba-Kiunga section and the 83km Ijara-Sangailu-Hulugho section.

Local police officials said they had deployed more personnel to pursue the gang operating in the expansive Boni Forest.

The LAPSSET Corridor Programme is Eastern Africa's largest and most ambitious infrastructure project bringing together Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The area is near the Kenya-Somalia border which has been under attack by terrorists in the past.

Kenya began the construction of the 700-kilometre long wall in 2015 to stop the militants from crossing into and out of Kenya.

The wall, which is known as the Kenya-Somalia border securitisation project is among others meant to secure the country from attacks by the Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorists.

The project plan includes having designated immigration and custom entry points with a tall concrete wall fitted with CCTV cameras.

The plan includes the creation of at least 22 border posts on the border with well-equipped personnel to respond to any form of aggression.

Officials say once complete, the teams will be spread 40 kilometres apart to enable quick response to attacks from militants.

Research by government security agencies says 30 percent of the country’s security problems are traced to the porous Somalia border is often penetrated by terrorists.

(Edited by V.Graham)



 





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