Kenya’s Lamu county is being targeted by militants because of its high-profile projects and military bases, among other factors.
Kenya’s Lamu County, which borders Somalia, has seen more terrorist attacks. In 2011, Kenya invaded Somalia on the basis of kidnappings. Within three years, the beachfront county suffered a devastating attack during a siege by Al-Shabaab, which claimed 48 lives.
Once again, Lamu is making headlines. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was issued by the government in January of this year amid a spike in murders. Several terrorist incidents have also been reported.
Al-Shabaab is also targeting large-scale development and defense facilities. The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor is the most visible public project (LAPSSET). This project, which aims to connect Lamu port to South Sudan and Ethiopia by train and roadways, is the most significant infrastructure project in the area of Eastern Africa.
Personnel and assets stationed in Lamu are also targets. Stationed in Lamu are possible targets. In Lamu are also targeted. Manda Bay includes Kenyan and US military outposts. Kenya Navy Manda Bay houses national, regional, and global armed forces.
Given that Al-Shabaab is now a transnational force posing a danger to local and regional security, the Manda Bay camp has served as a staging area for a number of key counter-terrorism operations.
The US Department of Defense also uses the Manda Bay military base as a forward operations area. It is operationally controlled by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which is situated in Djibouti.
Finally, the assault on Lamu port and military installations utilized by the Kenya Defence Forces and the US military is a symbolic reaction to Kenya’s state-led development ambitions and worldwide counter-terrorism operations.
Al-Shabaab attacked Manda Bay in January 2020, killing one US military service man and two contractors. In addition, the insurgents damaged planes and infrastructure. This was Al-first Shabaab’s and most lethal assault on a US military base in Africa outside of Somalia since 2017.
Another possibility is that it is a tourist attraction. Al-Shabaab activities target Lamu because of the symbolic importance of tourism in the county. Kenya’s coastal region, festivals, and agrotourism industries are popular in the county. The reason for this is its diverse marine ecosystem, terrestrial animals, and clean beaches. Additionally, there are water sports, cultural and historical assets, as well as religious, cultural, and cuisine festivals.
Initially, the people in Lamu were predominantly Muslim before a shift took place in the religion inclination of the people in the country. This is also one of the key reasons for the attacks.
Muslims now make up 51% of the population, Christians 47%, and other religious groups 2%. Lamu’s religious diversity is related to the settlement conflict.
Originally, the county was largely Muslim, similar to other neighboring Somalia counties like Garissa, Mandera, and Wajir, where 98 percent of the population is Muslim.