News 2008


These criminal gangs must be destroyed

Daily Nation

4. March 2008

The killing of 12 people near Kitale by a shadowy gang is sending a chilling message that calm has yet to return to some parts of the country, despite the efforts to end violence.

What is even more alarming is that this is not just an ordinary group of criminals. It is a well-organised and fairly sophisticated outfit - fully armed and dressed in full police uniform.

The raiders, believed to be members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force, are able to disguise their identity and get away with murder.

Mt Elgon and parts of Trans Nzoia district have experienced such attacks in the past, and apparently, there is no respite in sight yet.

Going by police accounts, there are indications that this was a revenge attack, as the group presumably sought to deal with people who had failed to co-operate. It may be too early to conclusively say that this was the motive.

But by all indications, this is a vicious group that exacts heavy demands on their victims. In this case, they even want parents to release their sons to join the militia and also pay for their upkeep. The group operates like a government of its own, making demands and meting out punishment at will.

This must stop. The Government cannot allow this to continue. All such criminal groups must be flushed out from their hideouts and dealt with ruthlessly.

At a time that the entire nation is still reeling from the violence that followed the disputed December elections, such bloodletting is likely to spur revenge attacks and create ugly situations.

As we have said before, the political crisis created room for criminals to cause mayhem under the guise of settling electoral scores. This may get worse unless urgent action is taken to rein in the militias.

The time for action is now. Internal Security minister George Saitoti and the Police Commissioner must roll out a strategy of dealing with these dangerous criminals. Political and community leaders must also take it as a responsibility to stop these gangs.

This country has suffered; too much blood has been shed, families and property destroyed and the last thing we want to hear is about more killings.