November 25, 2011 (LAMU, KENYA)
Lamu police announced Friday that they had arrested five unarmed Somalis on Manda island. The Somalis are now being held in Lamu jail.
Police and CID told a crowd of reporters at the police station that the men, mostly in their twenties, were being arrested as Shabab militants. It is not yet clear what evidence they have to support the charge. Being Somali?
Sources say a pilot had spotted a group of Somalis walking away from a skiff anchored in a mangrove channel near the Taqwa ruins on Manda Island. The Somalis had been asking locals directions to Manda Bay Resort.
The pilot immediately phoned Lamu police, who, along with the Kenya navy, arrived forty-five minutes later at the location where the Somalis were seen.
Lamu authorities told SomaliaReport that the men – Shabab militants – had been fleeing from the on-going war between Kenya forces and Shabab. Alternatively, presence of a skiff might suggest that the men were part of a “PAG” — pirate action group.
Senior Shabab or pirate commanders recruit young men desperate to escape a miserable existence in a war torn failed state.
As yet there is no evidence that they were carrying weapons, though they likely threw them over-board on seeing authorities approach.
The arrests occur in the wake of loss of tourist revenue and perceived “negative” publicity after Somalis ventured into Kenya on September 11 and kidnapped UK tourist, Judith Tebbutt, and Frenchwoman, Marie Dedieu, on Oct 1. Both vanished into Somalia.
Dedieu died in Burgavo in southern Somalia four days into her captivity. According to the French Embassy, her captors refused to receive and/or administer her cancer and diabetes medication. On Sept 11, Somali gunmen shot dead Judith Tebutt’s husband, David, in the couple’s beach hut at an upscale hotel near Somali border before abducting Mrs. Tebbutt. Judith Tebbutt is still alive in Xaradheere in north/central Somalia, the same pirate’s nest where British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were held hostage for over a year.
The Lamu Cultural Festival continued with much fanfare and unprecedented armed security (administrative police).
Categories: Conflict In Context - Field Notes