The government has termed the security operation targeting Ethiopia’s Oromo Liberation Front rebels in Kenya’s North Eastern region as a success.
Speaking in Parliament Wednesday, Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh said the move to flush out the rebels was necessitated by the rising insecurity in the country.
He said the OLF rebels were being hired as mercenaries and most of them had carried out highway robberies in Moyale, Wajir and Sololo areas of the North Eastern Region.
Mr Ojodeh also listed kidnapping, arms smuggling, cattle rustling and rampant attacks on the area’s residents.
The assistant minister told MPs that the operation, codenamed “Operation Good Hope” had so far managed to get an assortment of guns, landmines, bombs, a cache of bullets, communication gadgets, a solar panel, tear-gas canisters, and hand grenades.
The assistant minister also said that the police had information that the rebels had instigated attacks against various clans in the region, thereby, making the clans turn against each other. Ten people have so far been killed in the OLF attacks.
Mr Ojodeh added that six rebels had been arrested so far and repatriation orders sought to have the arrested rebels sent back to Ethiopia.
He added that the two assistant chiefs, who had been flown to Nairobi after being tortured by security forces were “harbouring the rebels and misinforming the government".
The assistant minister denied the torture claims, but said that he had organised an identification parade to have the two chiefs to pinpoint those who tortured them.
“We’ve visited the chief in the hospital and he’s recovering,” said Mr Ojodeh.
“I am going to take action, because we do not tolerate torture anymore. No one will be spared if implicated in the torture of two chiefs.”
A fortnight ago, Parliament temporarily shelved business to discuss the developing crisis in the region that borders the war-torn Somalia and the volatile south of Ethiopia.
Mr Mohammed Affey (nominated, ODM-K) and Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central, CCU) said the assistant minister was misleading the House because he did not have real facts about the torture of the two chiefs.
Mr Imanyara said the codename to the locals meant “Operation Strike Terror”.
But the assistant minister insisted that the police had “clear instructions to carry out the operation with a human face and observe human rights".
“I have also directed the District Commissioner Wajir North to engage community leaders,” said Mr Ojodeh.
MPs had debated the mutilation of private parts of two chiefs by administration police officers and displayed images of the chiefs showing bloody bandaged crotches of men in pain.
Mr Adan Keynan, the chair of Parliament’s Committee of Defence and Foreign Relations, termed the torture of the two chiefs as “barbaric, brutal, unconstitutional, oppressive and unacceptable".
“They know where the remnants of the OLF are; why did they turn against their own officers. We cannot usher a new Constitution just on paper, impunity has to be fought at all levels,” said Mr Keynan.
The MPs demanded that the government sack all the officers involved in the matter and have them prosecuted.