Kenya army launches crackdown on
11. March 2008
NAIROBI (AFP) — The Kenyan army has launched a massive crackdown
on a tribal militia in western Kenya that has killed hundreds of
people in recent months, officials said Monday.
Rift Valley provincial chief Hassan Noor Hassan and the region's
police commander announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Mount
Elgon region as the army hunted down the rag-tag Sabaot Land
Defence Force (SLDF) militia.
"We want people to remain indoors so that the operation can go on
well. We are determined to succeed," Hassan said.
Police estimate that the militia has killed at least 500 people in
the past year alone and displaced thousands of others.
Last week, the group attacked a village in the area and killed 15
people, some hacked others burnt or shot dead.
Several residents fled the area Monday for fear of arrest as
hundreds of heavily armed soldiers kicked off the operation.
"It is a massive operation. We are using helicopters to over fly
the forest. We are also moving from house to house to search for
these criminals," a senior police officer said on condition of
The SLDF is demanding the nullification of a government settlement
scheme which it deems unfair because it displaced the small Sabaot
tribes from their ancestral land.
The group intensified attacks in 2006 and killed several villagers
and destroyed homes in the fertile Mount Elgon region near the
border with Uganda.
The violence in the flashpoint Mount Elgon area is not directly
linked to the turmoil that erupted following Kenya's disputed
December elections but tribal and land disputes have been
exacerbated in recent weeks.