Elite squad goes after Mungiki
By John Njagi and James Kariuki ("Daily Nation," April 29, 2009)
Nyeri Town, Kenya - Dozens of young people were Wednesday arrested when elite policemen conducted a massive crackdown on members of the Mungiki extortion gang.
Most of the people were rounded up at bus stages in Nyeri Town after they were found touting for passengers without identification badges.
Others were seized for loitering and were later bundled into waiting police vehicles and taken to the police station.
The Nation team counted at least 50 youths being bundled into a police truck in handcuffs.
Tobbaco or bhang
Heavily armed General Service Unit officers and others from the Administration Police’s rapid response initiative were seen patrolling the streets and rounding up people, mostly young men.
Other officers used sniffer dogs to pick out those carrying tobacco or bhang, usually associated with members of the outlawed sect.
The operation, which started at dusk on Monday, extended into the night and was still continuing yesterday with the officers moving to residential estates such as Blue Valley and the sprawling Majengo slums where more suspects were seized.
Security officers have also been on high alert ever since the killing of 30 villagers in Nyeri East District last week and the arrest of several youths at an oathing ceremony in Kikuyu on Monday.
In Nyandarua North District, four people were arrested yesterday in a similar crackdown.
The four suspected sect members, among them a woman, were found in a house at Gwa Kungu area in Ndaragwa. The house is said to be used as a gang members’ hideout. There were pangas, among other items, such as tobacco, associated with the group.
District commissioner Hassan Farah said officers from the Rapid Deployment Unit in Nairobi were sent after reports of the sect’s activities in the area.
He said residents gave the police a tip-off about the four as they feared an outbreak of violence.
Mr Farah said the officers had clear instructions to deal firmly with the sect’s followers with a view to discouraging residents from condoning activities of the unlawful group.
The DC maintained that the government would not relent on its role to protect Kenyans and their property, saying the police were on high alert in the region.
He urged residents to remain calm and give the police any information that would lead to the arrest of suspected criminals..