State to compensate Ngong blast victims

May 14, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – The government will compensate families whose children were killed in Ngong after a bomb they were playing with exploded killing four of them instantly last Sunday.

Speaking during the burial ceremony on Friday, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti admitted that the government was liable for the deaths noting that the military should have mopped up the area to ensure that none of the devices they used for their training sessions were left behind.

The boys aged between six and 12 years were playing with the rusty anti personnel bomb at a grazing ground in Ole Maroroi village, in Ewaso Kedong, a few kilometres from Ngong town in the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.

The fifth succumbed to injuries at the Kenyatta National Hospital on Monday afternoon.

“A mistake has been committed by government personnel; the people in this area have done nothing wrong. It is therefore up to the government to compensate the families that have lost their loved ones,” said Prof Saitoti.

Defense Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaisserry who also attended the burial ceremony said military bomb experts would camp in the area for a month to mop up all similar devices before embarking on a nation wide mop up exercise.

“We have 300 officers who will be here for one month to clean up this area and make sure that no such weapons are left behind. The officers will also move up to other parts of the country that are used as training grounds to carry out the same exercise and prevent any loss of lives in the future,” he said.

Local leaders who spoke during the sendoff hit out at the military for its negligence saying the deaths could have been prevented.

Emotions ran high during the burial service with family and villagers of Olomaroroi struggling to come to terms with the loss of lives. The boys were buried in a mass grave at the site where the explosion occurred.

On Monday, Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri said a team had been dispatched to the area to carry out a massive search following reports that there were more similar devices abandoned in the area, which sits four kilometers away from a military training ground.

"We used to train in this area in the 1970\’s with this kind of mortar bombs and we moved to other designated areas. A thorough search was carried out at the time to get rid of any remnants of the bombs and other explosives but we have learnt that there are some which might have been left behind due to the rugged terrains," he had said.

"This (Monday) afternoon, we have received information from locals that there are four more similar bombs and a team has been sent to secure them and any other which may be there," he had added.

Mr Ongeri said the bombs were found in shrubs while others were hidden by locals in toilets and underground to ensure children did not get into contact with them. He also urged residents to report to the police about any future discoveries saying that they were dangerous.

"We are working very closely with the locals and they are very cooperative because they are assisting us a lot.  There are those who have been finding them and hiding them away from children, we are going to take away all those explosives," he said.

He added that an intensive sensitisation programme would be undertaken to enlighten the residents of the need to be cautious whenever they discover strange objects.

"We will educate them and even educate them on how these things look like so that when they find them they are able to know and take the necessary action," he said.

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