Kenya military sets probe team over civilian deaths

November 26, 2011 1:59 pm


Col. Cyrus Oguna briefs the media on Operation Linda Nchi/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, NOV 26 – The Department of Defence has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the killing of eighteen Kenyans by the Navy on suspicion that they were Al Shabaab militants.

The officer in charge of information and operations at the Department of Defence Colonel Cyrus Oguna says the probe team will be composed of professionals from the military.

Oguna who spoke during a weekly briefing at the Department of Defence said that the findings from the investigations will be made public.

“We are very sorry about the incident if indeed those killed were Kenyans. But we also have to ask ourselves that if they were Kenyans, why they refused to surrender when asked to. All law abiding citizens should support the government as security is not just for the police and the army,”Col Oguna said.

He maintained that the ban on fishing activities at the Coast still stands and urged the locals to observe the order.

“We have a legitimate government and a constitution, so if our government uses the constitution to give orders and direction we must abide by it,” he said in regards to the ban.

The Kenya Defense forces early this month said it had sunk a boat of the Al Shabaab fighters in the high seas, killing 18 militants.

However some families in Mombasa emerged two days later and claimed those killed were Kenyans returning home from a fishing expedition in the Indian Ocean.

According to Col Oguna, the Kenyan forces have killed at least 15 Al-Shabaab operatives and injured others in the offensive in the last one week mainly in south Somalia.

He pointed out that there are Kenyans among the Al-Shabaab militants who have been killed, injured or arrested although he said that KDF were not profiling those arrested for their nationalities.

Col Oguna said that the training camps that have been taken out in the Southern region of Anole have the highest number of foreigners who have been recruited from Kenya and other neighboring countries.

“All those camps where indoctrination and radicalization goes on have been flattened following raids from the Kenya Air force,” he said.

Deputy Director at Foreign affairs division in charge of the Horn of Africa Lindsay Kipteness who spoke at the same briefing, said that the government was currently seeking more international support for the operation.

He said that the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Head of States summit held in Addis Ababa on Friday backed the operation and Kenya would now use the body’s organs to solicit more support from the international community.

“The presidents who spoke at the summit also expressed their understanding and support for the Kenyan operation. Kenya also said it was willing to join the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces as long as the mandate is changed to capture the current on goings and allow the forces to move on the offensive,” Mr Kipteness said.

The Kenya Defence forces has also denied allegations of harassment and beating up of locals in Mandera and Garissa as alleged by some of the MPs from North Eastern.

Oguna affirmed that the Defence forces are guided by a code of engagement on internal and external assignments.

He said that the officers have the best interests of Kenyans and would not engage in harassing locals.

“I don’t believe that there is any KDF troop that has harassed nay Kenyan because we understand our role, if you carefully look into the complains against the KDF you will find that they are untrue,” he reiterated.

Oguna has called on the Kenyan public to support the military identify the Al Shabaab militants.

“We must accept that the situation is not normal we would like the Kenyan people to support us to identify the bad guys; good guys will remain but the bad ones will be dealt with,” he said.

On Friday six MPs from North Eastern Kenya complained over heavy handedness by the military that allegedly resorted to harassing Mandera and Garissa residents after the explosions on Thursday that claimed .the lives of six civilians and one Kenyan soldier.


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