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Major disarmament exercise launched in northwest Kenya

11 May 2015, 08:14

Nairobi - Police launched a major disarmament programme aimed at mopping guns in the restive four counties of northwest Kenya.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett said ordered all individuals holding illegal guns in Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu and Turkana counties to surrender them or face the full force of the law.

"I am appealing to the residents to cooperate with security agencies and share any information which will assist the police," Boinett said in a statement on Sunday.

"Anyone found in possession of illegal firearms will be deemed to be preparing to commit a crime and will henceforth face the full force of the law," he warned.

The disarmament which kicked off on Saturday comes after 64 people have been killed and unknown number of livestock stolen or displaced after a livestock raid on a village in Turkana county northwest Kenya.

The retaliatory clashes at Nadome village have also left about 350 families displaced and are currently camping at Nabokut and Nasoret areas.

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 have terrorized residents since last week.

Boinnet said the operation aims to restore calm in the area, arrest bandits and confiscate illegal weapons while recovering stolen livestock.

"Let me take this opportunity to warn anyone who will in any way obstruct the police from conducting their duties that they will be dealt with in accordance with the law. I will however expect total cooperation from anyone," Boinett said.

The operation is the latest in a series of government crackdowns in the area. The authorities have carried out more than 50 disarmament operations in recent years, with many touting the Mt. Elgon operation in 2008 that netted 103 assorted firearms and 1,155 rounds of ammunition as the most successful.

In November last year, armed raiders killed more than 20 police officers and over ten civilians in an ambush as they pursued Pokot raiders in Kapedo, an attack, seen as the worst on police officers since 2012 when at least 42 police officers were massacred by bandits in Baragoi.

Also read: Kaindi was not attacked in Turkana, Police insist

The success of the operation in disarming locals remains unclear, partly as a result of the cultural nature of residents to own and use firearms despite their illicit nature.

According to the regional commissioner Hassan Warfa, the region could be home to close to 200,000 illegal firearms.

On Saturday, Deputy President William Ruto said the government will consider having armed Kenya Police Reserves (KPR) in every village in the affected counties to help in containing the situation even as other peaceful avenues are being pursued.

"We shall also seek to establish whether there is any lethargy in government security machinery and take corrective measures," Ruto said in West Pokot.

Ruto said it was unacceptable that development had been paralyzed in the area due to cattle rustling.

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- Xinhua


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