Thousands flee from Kenyan army
Monday, March 10, 2008
Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes in western
Kenya following an army operation targeting members of a group
linked to clashes over land, a Red Cross official says.
Ochiemo Cheptai, who identified himself as chairman of a local
chapter of the Kenya Red Cross, told the Associated Press that on
Sunday the army began bombing villages in the Mount Elgon area,
where members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force are believed to be
Cheptai said up to 30,000 people have fled their homes in the past
Red Cross officials in Nairobi and Geneva, however, said Cheptai
wasn't with the organization and were challenging the 30,000
figure, saying they have not yet assessed the numbers fleeing.
Local legislator Fred Kapondi accused the army of targeting
civilians instead of pursuing militants in their hideouts. He said
people are fleeing "aerial bombing and harassment from the army."
But Mohamud Birik, the local district commissioner, denied the
army is targeting villagers.
Army spokesman Bogita Ongeri declined to provide details, saying
only that troops were in the area to assist local officials.