Hundreds of guns, thousands of bullets retrieved in Marsabit

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i talking to security officers in Marsabit on June 6, 2020 when he visited the county.

Photo credit: Steve Otieno | Nation Media Group

Hundreds of guns and thousands of ammunition have been retrieved in Marsabit barely a month after the launch of "operation rejesha amani" in the county. 

Currently, over 250 guns and more than 3,000 bullets as well as grenades have been retrieved from wrongful hands and are in police custody.

While on a visit to the county, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the State was not going to relent on its push until it retrieves at least 3,000 guns illegally owned by locals in the troubled county.

"We believe from intelligence and the information we have, that there are more guns than the ones that we have collected. We need to recover more guns, we will review this operation when we have around 3000 or so guns because we believe there are still many more guns in wrong hands," he said.

The Interior Ministry chief also added that meetings with several locals and religious leaders drawn from various parts of the area pointed to a serious challenge in the administrative structures in the county and said there would not only be a structure but also a full re-training for all chiefs and sub chiefs in Marsabit.

The guns retrieved include AK47 (over 100), G3 (36), Carabine (60), MK4 (45), seven pistols, four sub machine guns, five HK21 general purpose machine guns and 22 old guns.

CS Matiang’i's visit to Marsabit comes a few days after the government extended the dusk to dawn curfew imposed on the county a month ago for another 30 days.

However, the end of the extended curfew will not mean the end of the police operations in the area, Dr Matiang'i said.

“We have had talks with business persons here and they're requesting for additional hours to the curfew so that they operate their businesses for longer. We shall have a review of the curfew in the next three to four weeks and see if we'll add an hour but the operation will still continue until elections,” he said.

Preliminary investigations by the multi-agency security forces working in the area have identified ethnic conflicts, questionable recruitment of chiefs and sub chiefs and the "normal challenges that come with border points in any country," CS Matiang'i said.

The Interior boss also revealed that all schools in the county had been reopened thanks to the calm restored in the past one month since the inception of the curfew and police operations.

He also assured the locals, mostly women affected by the skirmishes, of government's provisions such as food and some form of compensation over their losses and asked the women to form a committee so that the government has a means of reaching them through a recognised organisation.

“The government always has plans for its people. We have already distributed food to those who do not have and will continue doing so. No Kenyan will be affected by hunger on the government's watch,” he said.

Whereas the insecurity incidences have over time been majorly attributed to politics and rogue politicians, CS Matiang'i said that that was not the sole reason but that there were a few elements with ulterior motives seeking to destabilise the county and that the government was hot on these individuals' heels and had even captured some of them.

The CS expressed frustrations that a former military officer who is a key suspect in the trafficking of illegal weapons in Marsabit had been set free by a court but vowed that the Government will appeal the decision.

“I'm very disappointed about how that individual was released through the justice system in a manner that is not impressive to us. We are going back to court to appeal because we have sufficient evidence to incriminate that individual in activities that he has been doing,” he said.

Unlike previous operations conducted in many parts of the country where security agencies camp in an area and violence re-emerges as soon as they leave, CS Matiang'i said the situation would be different for Marsabit this round.

“This is a place whose economy should grow in an accelerated manner, only if we can keep the peace. That is why the government is here to make sure that Marsabit remains peaceful today, tomorrow and always, and we will do it,” he said.