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Al-Shabaab militants raid Lamu, destroy construction vehicles

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

LAMU, Kenya - Two drivers escaped unhurt after suspected Al-Shabaab militants hurled their vehicles with explosives in Lamu, police said, a month after another raid at a US Naval Base.

Armed with RPGs, the militants hurled the explosives to a lorry carrying cement and an excavator, dismembering them completely during the Sunday noon attack.

Both drivers, who narrowly escaped death, hid in the nearby bushes, police said. The vehicles belong to the H-Young company, which is constructing 135 KM Lamu-Garsen road.

Irungu Macharia, the Lamu County Commissioner said, "We have found the driver safe. There are no casualties, everybody is secure."

The four attackers vanished to their nearby bushes to avoid a clash with Kenya Defense Forces troops manning the region, residents said.

Security forces have intensified crackdown in the region as they pursue the attackers, who are believed to have taken refuge at Boni Forest, the official added.

"Enough security agencies, including the KDF and police, have been deployed to the area to pursue the attackers," he said.

"There is no cause for alarm as security has been optimized," added Irungu, who has coordinated response to attacks a couple of times in the last one month.

KDF troops had been flushing the militants in the nearby thickets and had attached a number of them prior to the incident, police said.

Residents lauded the KDF contingent for quick response, which may have scared the attackers at Milihoi, which is located few kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border.

Emmanuel Wanyoike, a resident, said the attack may have been aimed at scaring the construction workers into abandoning the project.

The road leads to the mega Lamu Port (Lapsset) project site in Kililana. The port is due to be launched by all East Africa leaders in the coming months.

"They are people who are anti-development but we thank God that our security forces are very alert," said Mr. Wanyoike.

Last month, the Al-Shabaab attackers killed three Americans at Camp Simba Naval Base in an ambush that authorities are yet to unravel.

During the same month, a passenger vehicle was ambushed by the Somalia-based militants, leaving three people dead, officials said.