News 2008


Kenya government deploys army to flush out militia group

(Clearinghouse note: AngolaPress seems to have mixed up something here, since 500 deaths in skirmishes between Gikuyu and Turkana in the past one week can not be confirmed)



Nairobi, Kenya, 03/10 - A contingent of 1,000 military personnel has been dispatched to quell insurgency in Eastern Kenya where a militia group calling itself Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) is said to be committing atrocities, the Kenya Television Network (KTN) reported in Nairobi on Monday.

According to the report, the army, backed by the police and paramilitary General Service Unit moved into the area around Mt Elgon on the Kenya-Uganda border at dawn to flush out the militia group claiming to be fighting for the right to won land.

SLDF militiamen are alleged to have killed more than 500 people and displaced hundreds of others after their houses were torched in the area in the past three months in what Kenya authorities termed a dispute over land resources not connected to recent post-election violence.

The army is said to be using helicopter gun-ships, cannons and heavy artillery trucks. Tension is said to be high after the army began hunting down the insurgents. The area has been sealed off from the media.

The Sabaots, who have been demanding restitution over land, are the indigenous people around Mt Elgon in Rift Valley Province. They have accused successive Kenya regimes of marginalising them and grabbing their fertile land.

SLDF, which shot to the public limelight two years ago as vigilante group defending the community`s right to own land, poses a major security risk in an area traditionally referred to as Kenya`s breadbasket as it produces most to the food t h e country needs. Farmers have been forced out of their land and in some cases crop plantations set on fire.

The deployment of the army in western Kenya, which was adversely affected by post-election violence, took place as fresh ethnic clashes flared up between pastoralists and farmers in Laikipia, central Kenya, over diminishing grazing land and water resources.

According to police reports, at least 500 people have been killed in the past one week in ethnic violence that pits President Mwai Kibaki Kikuyu community and the Turkana cattle herders.