Choppers pursue Mt Elgon militia
March 5, 2008
By Robert Wanyonyi
The Government has launched the long-awaited ground-to-air
operation against the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) militiamen
in Mt Elgon and Trans-Nzoia West districts.
It was a rare spectacle as two military choppers circled Mt Elgon
forests in pursuit of the militiamen.
The fighting sparked off by the militia over the controversial
Chebyuk settlement scheme, has, according to the Western Kenya
Human Rights Watch, claimed 534 lives and displaced more than
40,000 people in the last one and a half years.
Yesterday, residents who have been living in fear, cheered as the
choppers flew above Embakasi and Kisawai, the scene of a bloody
attack that left 12 people, among them a two-month-old infant,
The Rift Valley PPO, Mr Japheth Ashimallah, Trans-Nzoia West DC,
Mr Francis Mutie, and senior provincial and district security
officers were on the ground to co-ordinate the exercise.
The Rapid Deployment Unit, a special unit that had been dispatched
to contain the SLDF militia, is given back up in the operation by
regular and Administration Police.
"We will definitely record some progress in making sure that
criminals do not continue visiting havoc on law-abiding citizens.
The security team is on the ground to ensure residents settle back
on their farms," Ashimallah assured Saboti MP, Mr Eugene Wamalwa,
who was at the scene.
The PPO said he was co-ordinating the operation against the
militiamen in liaison with his Western Province counterpart, Mr
Francis Munyambu, to ensure that all porous points used by the
militia to escape previous operations were sealed.
Though Ashimallah did not specify the progress made, confidential
sources told The Standard two SLDF militias had been shot dead and
several arrested only hours after the start of the operation.
Mutie announced that the Government had crucial information and
names of some politicians believed to be funding the activities of
"We will not allow politicians to continue enjoying peace while at
the same time cause innocent residents to suffer. Soon they will
be arrested and arraigned in court," warned Mutie.
He claimed that some school children were being lured into joining
the militia group, which he said use traditional charms and magic
to bind their members to their criminal activities.
He said some militiamen were involved in extorting money from
residents in the name of protection fee and were the ones who
turned around to kill and burn down houses of those who refused to
yield to their demands.
Wamalwa said the Government ought to do enough to convince
displaced people that security had been beefed up.
"While I welcome the commencement of the security operation, I
still feel the Government has a lot of ground to cover before
normal life resumes. The criminals have to be dealt with first,"
However, leaders from the local Anglican Church of Kenya opposed
the police operation, saying innocent people might suffer.
Led by Mr Leonard Ndiema, the leaders claimed the security
officers were torching houses and beating up women and children in
the name of hunting down the SLDF.
Ndiema claimed the militia group that attacked Embakasi might have
been part of the youths that were being given military training at
the farm of former Saboti MP, Mr Davies Nakitare, who is now in
"We are not against efforts to restore law and order in this
region. But we donít want to see the police apply the law
selectively. Let all those arrested in connection with the
training at the former MPís farm be charged," said Ndiema.
They further warned politicians against taking the matter lightly
by calling for the release of the 205 youths who were arrested at
Ford-Kenya Chairman, Mr Musikari Kombo, and former Kanduyi MP, Mr
Wafula Wamunyinyi, last weekend called for the release of the
suspects, saying they were to be used as game rangers at
Nakitareís expansive Delta Crescent farm, known worldwide as a
tourism attraction site.