Kenya scribe nabbed over alarmist story

May 28, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – A newspaper journalist has been arrested for allegedly publishing alarming statements on the military helicopter that crash-landed in Ijara on Tuesday, according to police.

Adow Jubat, a correspondent with the Standard Newspapers, was being held on Thursday morning at the Masalani police station in Ijara.

“He was picked up this morning and is being investigated over a story that appeared in the newspaper yesterday (Wednesday) to the effect that the military plane was shot down by Somali Al-Shabaab militiamen,” local police chief Rems Warui said.

“He is being questioned and may appear in court later for publishing an alarming statement.”

The helicopter with three military officers on board was conducting an aerial patrol along the Kenya-Somalia border when their helicopter crash-landed at Hulugho police station, in Ijara district.

Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri denied reports that the chopper was shot down by Al-Shaabab militiamen.

“The fact of the matter is that the military helicopter was flying from Kiunga Military Camp to Garissa via Hulugho when it developed a mechanical problem as it was about to land at Hulugho military camp,” he said in a statement.

“You don’t expect a plane to be shot down and fail to catch fire. That amounts to propaganda. The problem was a result of a malfunction,” he had said earlier on telephone.

Already, investigators from the Transport Ministry and the Military  D department have been flown to Ijara to probe the cause of the crash, police and military officials said.

A senior officer told Capital News that truckloads of security personnel were deployed to the towns bordering Kenya and Somalia on Wednesday to enhance security in the country following fresh fighting in Somalia in the recent weeks.

“More army officers have been deployed to the border towns and security agents are on a high alert,” the source said but could not state if the latest deployment was related to Tuesday’s incident.

“Another plane has also been dispatched to Garissa today (Thursday) to replace the damaged one to ensure normal patrols are not affected,” the source added.

Three army officers were injured when the military chopper patrolling the volatile Kenya-Somalia border crash-landed at Hulugho Military camp in Ijara district.

“Only two (officers) are admitted to the Forces Memorial Hospital and will be discharged soon. The third was discharged and is already back to work,” Mr Ongeri said.

Air mishaps involving ancient-helicopters for the police and military used by top government officials have become common in Kenya.

Three weeks ago, a police helicopter carrying the police chief Maj Gen Mohammed Hussein Ali and other top government officials and journalists crash-landed after it lost power shortly after take-off in Kapsabet.

A bodyguard ,  who had accompanied Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia, died in hospital as a result of the accident while some of the survivors are still admitted to hospital.


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