Security forces have discovered two caves in Boni forest believed to be used by the militia behind the wave of killings in Lamu County.
Senior security officers involved in the joint operation by the police and the Kenya Defence Forces said they discovered the caves deep inside the expansive forest on Wednesday evening.
They did not, however, find anyone inside the two caves, said a senior security official who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“We believe the caves were being used by the criminals. We found some paraphernalia and clothing, which we suspect belong to the criminals,” said the source.
Security officers believe the militia fled after getting information that they were being pursued. “We are determined to flush them out, however, long it takes. We have sealed all entry and exit points to the forest so that they are not able to escape or to get supplies,” the source told Nation.
“These are radicalised locals who fought alongside the Al-Shabaab in Somalia and sneaked back into the country after the fall of Kismayu. They are the ones waging the war on innocent citizens.”
The military was sent to Lamu on July 7 to assist flush out the militia after a wave of attacks, which claimed the lives of at least 70 people.
Victims of the Mpeketoni attack recounted that they saw the assailants stock food and medical supplies, indicating they could be in the area for the long haul.
Two months ago, Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, a leader of Al-Shabaab, warned that the group would “soon” be taking the war in Somalia to Kenya’s doorstep.
Witnesses in Mpeketoni said some attackers delivered a jihadist sermon at a mosque in Pandanguo village.
The government has, however, blamed local political leaders and militias like the Mombasa Republican Council. This is despite the fact that two weeks ago, two known Al-Shabaab men were arrested by Kenyan soldiers in Lamu.
The US has suspended its Peace Corps in Kenya. The US State Department said last week that the decision to pull the 70 volunteers out was “based on the overall security picture”.