, KAJIADO, Kenya, Jun 23 – The military has concluded the massive mop up exercise it had mounted in Ol Maroroi village, Ngong, in search of unexploded ordinance.
The military had pitched camp in the village just a few kilometres from Ngong for almost two months where they conducted civic education for members of the public on how to identify a unexploded military devices. They also showed the public how to secure the area before concerned agencies arrive to dispose of or retrieve them.
Brigadier George Owino who has been overseeing the 40-day exercise codenamed “Operation Kinga Maisha” said that they had managed to recover 15 unexploded devices within the 18-kilometre perimetre of the training camp which is used by the military and an adjacent one used by the Administration Police.
The exercise was as a result of an explosion which killed five children, aged between six and 12 years, who were grazing cattle when they picked up a deadly 40mm mortar bomb and played with it, not knowing what it was.
The field where the deaths occurred is near the village.
The military conducted civic education exercises in 52 institutions including nursery, primary, secondary schools, as well as churches, which Brigadier Owino describes as being ‘highly successful.’
The incident involving the children raised questions in the manner the military personnel used the field for training and why they didn’t pick up bullets and unexploded ordinances from the field after finishing their exercises.
The last group of soldiers to train at the site were said to be from the Kenya Airforce.
Brigadier Owino told the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations that the Military Standing Orders required officers on such training missions to account for all the ammunition they used, whether exploded or not.
“I can tell you that someone did not follow the procedure. In fact the law is whoever fires the blind target is the one who is supposed to find out where it lands and ensure it is detonated. We also nowadays pick up the debris because of environment concerns,” he told the committee which visited the military camp.
Meanwhile, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti says that the government will fence off areas in the country where the military forces conduct their training to reduce the number of civilian casualties due to unexploded devices.
He said the move would ensure that residents were not exposed to explosives that remain after the exercise.
Prof Saitoti who is also the area MP said the government would compensate those who get affected.
Defence and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Adan Keynan said the committee had recommended that civic education be conducted to those living around the training camps on ways to identify and handle the explosives.
The Committee further said it would recommend that all military training grounds, even those used by foreign military forces be placed under one security agency which will then provide a coordinating mechanism on their use.