Sunday, August 11, 2013
Numerous unexploded explosives left behind by fighters and
bandits during the colonial era and a more recent secessionist conflict
are posing threat to locals living in the northern Kenyan region
A latest deadly incident occurred two weeks ago,
when three herd boys were killed after they unknowingly started playing
with an old grenade they found in the fields.
Their 16-year-old playmate was seriously injured
in the ordeal. On Saturday, police in the northern Kenyan county of
Garissa bordering Somalia said they had detonated a hand grenade that
was discovered by a herdsman.
Garissa Police County Commander Charles Kinyua
said the device was found by 26-year-old Aden Abdullahi who was walking
his herds to a nearby watering point.
Kinyua said the numerous unexploded grenades being
found in the area had been left behind by fighters and bandits during
the colonial and Shifta war era.
"The locals should be cautious of handling any
mysterious objects they come across, and should instead report any such
finds to the police," Kinyua told Xinhua in Garissa.
Locals who spoke to Xinhua expressed fears that the existence of dangerous explosives pose a serious threat to them and their families.
"I am afraid when my children go to play or at the
field grazing my animals, because you never know what they might step
on or come across," said Abdi Mohamed. "We call on the government to
quickly comehere and conduct a demining exercise in order to stop any further loss of lives as a result of these explosives," he said.
Responding to the locals' concerns, Kinyua said
plans were underway to use sniffer dogs to try and locate unexploded
devices in the area, and very soon public meetings to sensitize locals
on the dangers posed by the explosives would kick off.
Meanwhile, six AK-47 rifles and over 500 rounds of
ammunition have been surrendered to the police in Garissa following an
amnesty extended by the government to persons with illegal guns.
Kinyua lauded residents for their cooperation with
security agencies, urging more illegal gun owners to follow suit and
surrender their illegal arms.
The police officer moved to assure residents that
no action would be taken on those who willingly surrendered their arms,
addressing concerns among some residents that they would be arrested if
theybrought in their illegal arms. "We know there are many others in
the wrong hands. We urge them to surrender the weapons," Kinyua said.
The restive Garissa and other towns in the region
have been plagued by insecurity since late 2011, when the Kenya Defense
Forces (KDF) launched a cross-border incursion into southern Somalia in
pursuit ofAl-Qaida-linked militants.