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KDF denies torture claims in security operation

12 November 2014, 09:21

Nairobi - Kenya's military on Tuesday denied torture claims in an ongoing joint security operation to restore calm after more than 33 people have been killed and several others injured by bandits in northwest region.

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman Colonel David Obonyo said the soldiers have been involved in illegal arms mop-up, aerial surveillance and ground patrol, and denied reports that the soldiers were involved in destruction of property, looting and torching of houses in Baringo and Turkana counties where the operation is taking place.

"The KDF is a credible and mission capable force, deeply rooted in professionalism. Those claiming that the KDF was on destruction, burning and looting mission have an agenda to cast negative aspersions against KDF," Obonyo said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"Contrary to the non-factual information in the public domain, the KDF has not been involved in any forceful disarmament in the area," he added.

Also read: MP defends military deployment in Kapedo

The statement comes as a lawmaker and two activists went to the High Court in Nairobi on Tuesday to force the government to halt the security operation which they said was riddled with human rights abuses.

Kapenguria lawmaker Samuel Moroto and two others are seeking an injunction compelling the State to call off the operation, arguing the government has abandoned the role of protecting its citizens and was instead subjecting them to untold torture.

"The government has maliciously and with great impunity brutally tortured, killed, raped and literally prostituted the rights of innocent people of Kenya residing in Kapedo," they said in the joint petition.

The lawmaker expressed fears that there would be gross violations of human rights that may amount to crimes against humanity if the operation is not called off.

However, High Court Judge, George Odunga, refused to hear the case because it was poorly drafted.

"I cannot give any orders since the law does not allow me to issue injunction orders in the main petition. Go and file a proper application and let this file be placed before the Human Rights Division on Nov. 17 for further directions," Odunda said.

The government was forced to deploy security forces in the two counties after bandits on Oct. 31 laid ambush and massacred 19 police officers and three civilians in Kapedo, an area hit by the on-going wave of insecurity at the border point between Baringo County and Turkana.

On Oct. 22, armed bandits also attacked two vehicles belonging to the paramilitary police and killed three policemen, two civilians and injured one police officer and stripped off their uniforms and their firearms taken away.

Both Pokot and Turkana communities have been feuding for many years over cattle rustling and search for pastures, including water points since both are pastoralists.

Tension however remains high in the area amid fears of retaliatory attacks. Security officers have also mounted a security operation to flush out bandits who terrorized residents for long.

Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that could set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region.

Clashes between the rival cattle herding pastoralists in the region are common, with herders often carrying guns to protect their animals, but the recent fighting has been unusually heavy.

 - Xinhua

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