The Kenyan military on Sunday told residents who live close to Boni forest along the Kenyan coast to vacate the area within 48 hours in preparation for a heavy bombardment planned to wipe out al-Shabaab militants hiding within.
The order was delivered on Sunday by the head of Operation Linda Boni mission (Swahili for Operation Protect Boni) Joseph Kanyiri. He urged the herders, who are most likely to frequent the area, to stay away from the forest.
"We would like to caution herders to stay away from the forest, the Boni forest is part of our operation, we don't want anyone to get caught in the bombing of al-Shabaab hideouts that is imminent, we are giving them 48 hours to vacate with their animals," he said in a news conference in the coastal city of Mombasa.
The warning comes in the wake of numerous al-Shabaab attacks in the area which, in the last two month, have claimed the lives of at least 20 police officers. All the attacks involved roadside bombs.
Al-Shabaab militants have also beheaded at least 10 people from villages in the area during the same period. The latest, in ehich three people were killed, happened on Friday.
The Boni forest lies near the porous Kenya-Somalia border.