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Kenya Police intensifies war against narcotics in
the coastal region amid escalating gang violence

by Naftali Mwaura NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan security personnel have intensified crackdown on narcotics trafficking amid mounting evidence of its link to gang violence that rocked the coastal city of Mombasa recently.

Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, announced the war against drugs trade during a tour of Mombasa to quell street violence linked to vicious control of the illicit business.

According to Matiang’i, narcotics trafficking was fueling crime and street violence in the coastal region to the detriment of the tourism sector that is a major source of employment.

"There is a clear nexus between the recent gang violence in Mombasa and fight over control of the drugs business. We will launch a ruthless crackdown on the drugs cartels that are sponsoring chaos in the coastal region," said Matiang’i.

Shortly after Matiang’i visit to Mombasa, a raid on the palatial home of a suspected drug lord and tycoon was conducted by a multi-agency security team though he was said to be out of the country.

Ali Punjani, the narcotics kingpin, has been on the radar of local and foreign detectives since 2010 when he was mentioned in parliament for his alleged involvement in hard drugs by the then internal security minister George Saitoti.

Media reports indicated that more than 20 police officers raided Punjani’s palatial beach home on Monday and spent hours searching for narcotics using sniffer dogs.

Johnston Ipara, Mombasa County police commander, revealed that security officers were already having names of Punjani’s associates whom they were pursuing for arrest and interrogation on the drugs trade in the coast region.

Local media outlets reported that Punjani had been admitted at a hospital in India where he sought treatment for a heart-related condition.

He was in July mentioned at a New York courtroom by Indian national, Vijaygiri Goswami as a rival to renowned Mombasa-based narcotics kingpins, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha.

The two Akasha brothers, who inherited a vast narcotics empire from their late father, are awaiting sentencing by a New York court.

Security officers insisted that the drug war will intensify across the country despite resistance from powerful individuals involved in the illicit trade that can attract life sentence.

A senior police officer attached to a station in Lamu Island that is a world heritage site was early this week arrested and detained after facilitating release of a drug peddler and his consignment worth 50,000 Kenyan shillings (500 U.S Dollars).

Muchangi Kioi, Lamu County police commander, said the arrest of the officer who had served at his new post for one and a half years, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating narcotics trafficking in the country.

Kenyan security officers have already heightened surveillance at ports of entry and major towns in their bid to nab drug traffickers.

Sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Monday arrested two prison wardens after CCTV footage showed them hiding cocaine in a bathroom at Manyani Maximum Security Prison located in southeastern Kenyan county of Taita Taveta.


Kenya sets up all-female police team to fight organized crime

by Chris Mgidu NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A team of elite female police officers on Friday wrapped up five-month-long standardized training program and will be deployed to tackle organized crime in the east African nation.

The elite all-female Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, comprising of 48 commando officers, drawn from the Administration Police Service (APS), have undergone through five months of physical and combat drilling, which is the first phase of their 15-month-long program.

Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, said the move came at a time when Kenya seeks to handle emerging security threats and hostage crises promptly and with precision.

"This is a momentous day for our country because we can now rest assured that we have more officers who can undertake intricate security operations that require specialized approaches," Matiang’i said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"What we have witnessed today gives us confidence as the government that we have the capacity to protect our people and secure our country", he said, adding that the team will greatly supplement the existing efforts of securing the country.

Matiang’i said the officers are "job-ready" not only to thwart terror threats and attacks but also enhance general security.

Their training featured, among others, the application of Israeli Krav Maga, multiple weapons handling techniques as well as explosive and improvised explosive device management.

Matiang’i said the commandos have so far demonstrated unmatched expertise in all the devices assured them of government’s full support in their work through improved welfare, advanced training, and capacity building.

Hillary Mutyambai, inspector general of National Police Service, committed to progressively increasing the contingent in the next intake.

Mutyambai commended the collaboration with other stakeholders in the security sector, which has greatly improved service delivery.


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