Kenya beefs up Somali border security

May 27, 2009 12:00 am

, GARISSA, Kenya, May 27 – Security was beefed up at the Kenya-Somalia border on Wednesday as investigations into Tuesday’s military helicopter crash commenced.

Investigators from the Ministry of Transport and the Department of Defense arrived at the site on Wednesday and begun probing the cause, police sources said.

A senior officer said truck loads of security personnel were deployed to the towns bordering Kenya and Somalia to enhance security.

“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 to replace the damaged one to ensure normal patrols are not affected,” the source added.

Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News that normal patrols at the border points would continue as scheduled.

“There is nothing that has been interrupted. Everything is going on well,” he said and denied their officers were on high alert.

“There is no cause for alarm.”

Three army officers were injured when the military helicopter 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,” he said on telephone.

He said “the pilot was forced to crash-land when the plane developed a mechanical problem.”
Mr Ongeri said 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.

“The pilot was forced to crash-land, contrary to baseless claims of Al-Shabaab militia attack on the helicopter,” he said.

“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 told Capital News.

But even as the military struggled to explain Tuesday’s incident, questions were being raised on the safety of their ‘ancient’ helicopters.

Two months ago, a military helicopter carrying President Mwai Kibaki and other senior government officials in Kisii district developed a malfunction shortly after take-off, forcing them to abandon it.

Air mishaps involving ancient-helicopters for the police and military commonly 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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