Kenya deploys helicopters to flush out militias
( dpa ) - Kenyan security forces have deployed to the western Mount Elgon region in a bid to flush out militias that have killed hundreds of people in the last year over land disputes, using helicopters and ground forces, an official said Tuesday.
The operation began Sunday night targeting the Sabaot Land Defence Forces, a group of AK-47-toting militiamen who are blamed with the killing of 12 people in the area last week.
"There are about 20 or 30 of them, but they each have the capacity to kill hundreds of people. They are armed and they shoot at innocent people," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said.
The Mount Elgon region, on the border with Uganda, is often the scene of bloody land clashes, with different tribes battling over scarce resources.
Mutua said none of the militiamen had been killed, but that the purpose of the operation was to round them up and take them to court.
Local media reported the joint forces bombed caves believed to be militia hideouts in the region.
Mutua said the operation was unrelated to post-election violence that saw police battling pro-opposition protestors and inter-tribal violence that left more than 1,000 dead.
Kenya's disputed December elections unleashed tribal tensions that mostly stem from unequal distribution of land.