Shabaab warns villagers
. . . Boko Haram leader denies death ‘rumour’
NAIROBI — Dozens of suspected Somali al-shabaab fighters swept into a Kenyan village and lectured locals for at least two hours before disappearing into a nearby forest without attacking anyone, police and residents said on Sunday.
The al-qaeda-linked al-shabaab has made a series of deadly raids in Kenya since Kenyan troops first entered Somalia to fight them in 2011.
It has said it will continue until Nairobi withdraws the troops, now part of an African Union peacekeeping force.
Residents of Basuba village in the coastal region of Lamu said the militants, numbering over 50, warned them against boarding any police or military vehicles because they targeted them for attacks.
“They had their faces masked and wore jungle attire. They told us if we boarded those vehicles we would die with the officers,” one resident told Reuters.
The villager said among the militants were two men and two women who appeared to be of Caucasian origin. They arrived at 5am on Saturday. “They also warned that if we told police about their presence and visit, they would come back and deal with us,” said the witness, adding that a few locals had already left the area out of fear.
A second resident said: “They said they didn’t want to hurt us and that their war was with the military and police in Lamu and not us.”
Chrispus Mutali, Lamu County Administration police commander, said: “We are hearing about that alShabaab visit in Basuba but we cannot confirm anything for now until we get clear information from officers on the ground.”
Al Shabaab aims to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law.
In June 2014, the group killed 65 people in Lamu County in back-toback assaults over a 24-hour period.
It was also behind a raid on Nai- robi’s Westgate Mall in 2013 that killed 67.
In its worst attack in Kenya, its gunmen killed 148 people at a university in April.
Meanwhile, Abubakar Shekau says he is alive and still the leader of Islamist sect Boko Haram, deny- ing reports he is dead, according to a new audio message quoted on social media on Sunday.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio message.
Social media feed of jihad monitoring site Site Intelligence quoted a new audio message released from Shekau denying reports that he is unable to serve as leader.
There have been several claims by Nigeria’s military that Shekau has been killed over the last few years but he keeps resurfacing in new videos or it could be “impostors” posing with the same name, security sources have said.
Last week Chad’s President Idriss Deby said Boko Haram leader Shekau was wounded and has been replaced as leader by Mahamoud Daoud, adding that Shekau went to Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, after he was wounded.
Deby said the new Boko Haram leader, about whom little is known, was open to the idea of talks with Abuja.
“Infidel media published that I’m dead, or sick and can’t speak, this is an utter lie,” Rita Katz, director of Site Intelligence posted on her social media site quoting Shekau as saying to ISIS leader, Baghdadi.
Shekau’s last video appearance was in February, when a person claiming to be him - analysts believe he may have been impersonated - threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s presidential elections held the following month.
The group has released at least five videos since then but Shekau has not appeared in any of them.
Suspected members of the militant group Boko Haram have killed more than 600 people in Africa’s most populous nation in a spate of bombings and shootings since Buhari was inaugurated as president on May 29, according to a Reuters tally.
Efforts to reach an agreement to end the violence, including a 2014 deal fostered by Chad, have repeatedly failed during the six-year insurgency waged by the group in its bid to set up a state in the north-east adhering to strict Islamic laws.
Al SHABAAB militants swept into a Kenya village on Saturday.