Mon, 29 May 2023

LAMU, Kenya, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Estimated eight construction vehicles and equipment were on Sunday set ablaze by suspected al-Shabab militants at 29 km from Hindi Town in the coastal Kenyan county of Lamu, a government official said.

Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the trucks are part of a fleet of vehicles belonging to the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) that is currently building the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project access road.

Macharia also confirmed that there were no casualties during the incident.

He said the areas are marred with mobile network challenges, making it hard to communicate with police officers and units on the ground but promised that attackers were being pursued and that security has been heightened.

"I am aware the attackers destroyed construction equipment. It has been a challenge trying to reach my officers on the ground but security agencies are currently pursuing the gunmen. I will give more details as I get them," said Macharia.

Security reports indicate that the heavily armed gunmen attacked a parking lot at the mini-constriction at around 4 a.m. and engaged the Kenya Defense Force before they threw gasoline bottles that burnt most of the equipment.

The site is manned by Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

A fire exchange lasting for over two hours ensued at the site between the gunmen and KDF, before the militants were finally repulsed and retreated back into the Boni forest.

Officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the network challenges in the area made it impossible for them to call for backup when the attack happened.

"There is no network in this area and that has been the major issue in dealing with the terrorists here. We called for backup but the response was slow due to that. By the time we got help, a lot of damage had been done," said the officer.

The LAPSSET project is touted as East Africa's largest and most ambitious infrastructure project connecting Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

On Saturday, intelligence reports indicated that the militia group was planning attacks in Lamu targeting the Lamu Port and the road leading to the facility.

The Chinese company is constructing the road that will run through Lamu, Ijara and Garissa.

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