Category Archives: East Africa

Kenya – 1.5 million people facing threat of starvation as rains fail

Capital FM/allAfrica

Photo: Capital FM

Drought and hunger in Kenya.

Nairobi — The government says 1.5 million people are facing starvation across the country specifically in arid and semi-arid areas due to low rainfall.

Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Anne Waiguru explained that the National Government will be responsible for food relief and distribution in a bid to mitigate starvation.

In a joint statement with Governors of affected areas on Tuesday after the annual drought assessment in counties, Waiguru said the County Governments will be responsible for water distribution, veterinary and human health.

The assessment was carried out between July 21 and August 1 to evaluate the impact of this year’s long rains on food security.

“Only a few places in the Coast and Ukambani received 90-150 percent of the normal though with uneven distribution,” Waiguru stated.

“The assessment has forecast impending food crises in certain places including central parts of Turkana, Western parts of Marsabit, and some parts of Samburu, Mandera, Wajir, West Pokot and Baringo.”

Some of the areas affected are Mandera, Garissa, Taita Taveta, Tana River, parts of Laikipia and Meru North.

The assessment found that in most, “arid and semi-arid lands counties, the amount of rain was 50-60 percent of the norm, meaning that most places did not receive the expected amounts both in space and in time.”

Mandera County Governor Ali Roba on his part said following the discussions, all the set interventions towards addressing the situation will be set in motion at all levels.

The National Treasury has since allocated Sh1 billion to support the programme.

On August 8, Deputy President William Ruto said the government would do all it can to ensure no Kenyan dies from hunger.

“Sh1 billion has been released to the responsible ministry to ensure food is made available to the affected people. In fact, we have food worth Sh10 million for Samburu County,” he said.

Ruto however asked the county governments in arid and semi-arid areas of the country to invest heavily in irrigation, pointing out that provision of relief was not a lasting solution to famine.

He urged the county governments to invest heavily in irrigation in bid to realizing food security in their respective counties.  allAfrica

SADC leaders urge mass movement of Rwandan Hutu rebels from eastern DR Congo

VoA/allAfrica

By Sebastian Mhofu

Victoria Falls — Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) want the United Nations to assist in removing members of a Rwandan rebel group from eastern Congo.

The 15-member bloc made the appeal at the end of a two-day summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The leaders of southern African countries also resolved to speed up the industrialization of their countries to fight poverty.

They said the region was “generally peaceful and stable,” but appealed to the United Nations to help address the situation in the Great Lakes region.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a Southern African Development Community member, is hoping to rid its eastern provinces of rebel groups that have kept the region in the grips of chaos and violence for years.

“On the Democratic Republic of Congo, [the] summit also called upon the United Nations in co-operation with the African Union, to play its role in repatriating the FDLR elements that have voluntarily surrendered and disarmed or provide them with temporary resettlement in third countries outside the Great Lakes Region,” said Stergomena Lawrence-Tax, SADC executive secretary.

FDLR refers to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, comprised in part of men who took part in Rwanda’s genocide in 1994.

The region’s leaders noted “humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remain a challenge” and they endorsed a 10-year regional food and nutrition security strategy to improve food security.

The leaders were silent on issues of human rights abuses and poverty, which civic organizations had wanted them to address at the summit. allAfrica

Kenya – gunmen attack Garissa police station

Nation

A map showing Garissa County. Unknown men attacked Bodhai police station near the Garissa-Lamu border and burnt a vehicle on August 18, 2014. PHOTO | GOOGLE MAPS 

Unknown gunmen attacked Bodhai police station in Garissa County Monday night and burnt a vehicle.

A police officer was injured in the incident that occurred at around 9pm.

Garissa County Commissioner Harun Rashid Khator said the attackers fled after the incident.

He said they are yet to establish if there are more casualties.

Mr Khator said all security heads from Garissa County are heading to the area. Nation

South Sudan: Who’s Keeping the War Going?

allAfrica

Photo: South Sudan Tribune

President Salve Kiir addressing the South Sudanese community in Washington, DC

Washington, DC — With as many as 1.5 million people displaced by conflict and a worsening humanitarian situation, South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar has turned down President Salva Kiir’s latest peace offer – to incorporate the rebel leader into a transitional unity government prior to elections set for next year.

Three days ago, amid renewed fighting in several areas, United Nations forces reported rescuing around 400 civilians who fled fierce fighting around the government-held town of Bentiu. A United Nations compound there is sheltering around 50,000 displaced people in its facilities ill-equipped for the influx.

Machar told the Voice of America that he still demands direct talks with the government instead of the plan by Igad – the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development – which was tasked by its east African member governments with mediating a solution.

Igad wants South Sudanese civil society – non-governmental and religious organizations – involved in the peace process, to broaden the constituency for achieving and maintaining peace, a position supported by the South Sudan government. Machar rejects that approach, saying that his representatives and the government should formulate a power-sharing agreement between themselves.

Sandra Bulling, a communications officer for the international aid and development organization CARE, was in Bentiu last week, where she said conditions for the internally displaced people are grim and that the rainy season has caused additional hardship. “Our nutrition center was flooded,” she said, “meaning malnourished children and their mothers did not get any support that day.”

Also last week, in a rare field visit by the UN Security Council to a conflict area, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said 50,000 children were threatened with starvation in the coming months. UN officials and human rights organizations say both sides in the conflict block essential food deliveries by humanitarian organizations.

President Kiir, meeting with journalists in Washington DC during the U.S. Africa Summit this month, blamed the crisis on the rebel fighters. “I don’t know when the suffering will stop,” he said. “But if the warring parties would agree to stop fighting, automatically it will end the suffering, because the humanitarian assistance would flow to the people who are in need.”

The president voiced strong support for the Igad-supervised peace process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “I personally traveled to Addis Ababa in May and signed the ceasefire on 9th May,” Kirr said. “Unfortunately, within two days the ceasefire was violated by the forces of Riek Machar…I came back in June, on the 10th. We signed another ceasefire.”

Kiir said that he is a forgiving person and bears “no grudge” against Machar, but he complained that Machar is not in control of rebel forces on the ground. “I said in front of Igad and all those present that Machar claims that he has forces, but he is not in command of those forces…This is why there is no cessation of hostilities.” He challenged Machar to return to South Sudan to exert his influence for peace – and to prepare to run in the upcoming national elections, if he wants to contest them.

In several recent statements and interviews, Machar has said Kiir should have no place in the country’s government, despite his overwhelming election as South Sudan’s leader. Machar charges that the government is practicing ethnic cleansing against the Nuer group, to which he belongs.

“What would Salva [Kiir] present to the people as the programme to unite the people?” Machar is quoted by Sudan Tribune in an article on Friday. “He committed genocide, he committed mass killing – what programme would he talk about? Nothing.”

President Kiir acknowledged that both Nuer and Dinka, his own ethnic group, have engaged in violence against each other. He also cites crime and lawlessness as common problems in the young nation, which voted for independence from Sudan in 2011.

But he said that his government has tried to stop ethnic killings. “I appealed to the people – anybody who is my supporter – don’t attempt to kill any Nuer person,” Kiir said. “It is not the tribe who rebelled; it is Riek Machar.”

And in the nearly hour-long conversation with journalists in Washington, Kirr insisted that the conflict is, at heart, not tribal but is a struggle for power. He pointed to destruction in the city of Bor, which is the capital of Riek Machar’s home state of Unity, one of the country’s oil-rich regions.

“When he [Machar] was killing people in his own home state – people have to flee, they ran to where I come from, my state. If there was a tribal conflict, why would the Nuer people run to a Dinka state? People received them, and they are now there in their tens of thousands.”

The president reiterated that the peace process led by the Igad negotiators was the way forward. “We are committed to the peace process under the Igad,” he said. “We are also committed, as a government, to humanitarian work.”

South Sudan Finance Minister, Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, who traveled with Kiir to Washington, told AllAfrica that the president had established a committee to look into ramifications of the conflict when it broke out in December. The results of the investigation, he said, reinforced the government’s insistence on the regionally brokered peace process.

The minister headed the sub-committee on financial and economic issues. “Within two weeks,” he said, “we predicted that there would be a terrible reduction in government revenue – both oil and non-oil. We predicted that there would be loss of human capital. We predicted that there would be dislocation of economic enterprises. This has come to pass.”

Asked if he can be optimistic about South Sudan’s future in such dire circumstances, the finance minister said there is no choice but to press ahead. “We’re in the middle of a tornado,” he said. “It is destructive while it lasts, but it will blow past, and development will resume.”

African elephants may have reached tipping point through poaching

BBC
Elephant poaching deaths reach tipping point in Africa

By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News

Africa’s elephants have reached a tipping point: more are being killed each year than are being born, a study suggests.

Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the continent.

They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years.

The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lead author George Wittemyer, from Colorado State University, said: “We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent.”

Dramatic loss

The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars. Much of the demand has been driven by a rapidly growing market in Asia.

If this is sustained, then we will see significant declines over time.”

Julian Blanc
Cites

While conservationists have long said the outlook was bleak, this study provides a detailed assessment of the impact this is having on Africa’s elephants.

The researchers have found that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its entire elephant population each year.

Because elephant births boost the population by about 5% annually, this means that overall more of the animals are being killed than are being born.

Julian Blanc, who also worked on the study, from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), said: “If this is sustained, then we will see significant declines over time.

“The other thing to bear in mind is that different areas are affected differently.

“There are still healthy growing populations in parts of Africa, Botswana for example. But in other places the poaching levels are devastatingly high, and that is particularly the case in Central Africa.”

In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade.

Some ivory stockpiles have been destroyed in an attempt to halt the trade
Prof Wittemyer added: “We are talking about the removal of the oldest and biggest elephants.

The world needs to decide how much further effort it wants to put into the conservation of this magnificent species ”

John Scanlon
Cites

“That means removal of the primary breeding males and removal of family matriarchs and mothers. This leaves behind orphaned juveniles and broken elephant societies.”

Conservationists said urgent action was needed.

John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites, said: “The world needs to decide how much further effort it wants to put into the conservation of this magnificent species and, if so, be prepared to mobilise the necessary human and financial resources to deliver – and we are seeing some encouraging signs in this regard.

“In terms of concrete actions, we need to move to focus on the front-line and tackle all links in the illegal ivory trade chain – improve local livelihoods (for those living with elephants), strengthen enforcement and governance and reduce demand for illegal ivory. “

IMG_0932.JPG

IMG_0931.JPG

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28842965

US financial aid for African armies and corruption in Nigeria, South Sudan and Uganda

New York Times

Handmaiden to Africa’s Generals

By ALEX DE WAAL and ABDUL MOHAMMEDAUG. 15, 2014

16waal-master675

Credit Dan Stafford
SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Security is a core concern of the American government’s Africa policy. This was made clear in May when President Obama proposed a $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund to supplement programs the Pentagon already has in 35 countries. And it was made clear again at the recent U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, when Mr. Obama announced $110 million a year for an African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, a program to train and equip six African armies for peacekeeping operations.

Because Mr. Obama is committed to scaling back the deployment of United States troops to combat terrorism, America’s security strategy in Africa translates largely into training and equipping African armies. Although this approach rightly gives African governments the lead in tackling their own security problems, it is misguided nonetheless. It is, in effect, providing foreign tutelage to the militarization of Africa’s politics, which undermines peace and democracy throughout the continent. America’s diplomacy is becoming a handmaiden to Africa’s generals.

Consider two countries riven by different kinds of conflict and ask yourself what they have in common. On the one hand, there is South Sudan. By African standards, it is not a poor country. It has vast oil resources, and as soon it became independent from Sudan, three years ago, government spending per capita was about $350, four times the average for East African states. It also received the most generous international aid package of any country in East Africa — the equivalent of another $100 per capita. But the government spent about half of its budget on its huge army. And many of its 745 generals proceeded to make fortunes thanks to payroll fraud and procurement scams.

According to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, $4 billion in public funds were plundered by government ministers. When Mr. Kiir shut out his political rivals from the club of kleptocrats, fighting broke out. Various commanders and party bosses then mobilized supporters through ethnic militias, bringing a sectarian dimension to a conflict that was inherently about the distribution of public resources.

Then there is Nigeria. Its political leaders, generals and businessmen — who are often all those things at once — have grown wealthy on oil money, while much of the population lives in deep poverty. Health and education services are inadequate, and the government faces widespread outrage about corruption. Small wonder that the Islamist militants of Boko Haram, who espouse austere forms of Shariah justice, are able to recruit disaffected young men and that the Nigerian army struggles to find combat-ready units to counter them.

One thing South Sudan and Nigeria have in common is systemic corruption and a military elite that controls politics and business. The civil strife in South Sudan and the jihadist insurgency in Nigeria are largely symptoms of those deeper governance problems. Another thing South Sudan and Nigeria have in common is vast American support. In 2006-2013, the United States government spent up to $300 million to support the South Sudanese army. Nigeria has long been one of Washington’s biggest defense-cooperation partners.

Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

Even as conventional military threats have declined throughout Africa, overall military spending on the continent has grown faster than anywhere else in the world. And these military budgets often hide big black holes. In Uganda, according to local journalists, some funds officially dedicated to the salary of army personnel who turned out not to exist have been used by President Yoweri Museveni to reward generals loyal to him.

When political crises occur, the American government’s response is to privilege military measures, and local governments know it. For example, the ongoing peace talks in South Sudan have focused more on dispatching Ethiopian, Kenyan and Rwandan troops under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organization, and less on addressing the root causes of the conflict. In the absence of a durable political solution to the underlying crisis, this is a high-risk move; it could suck the whole of northeast Africa into South Sudan’s war.

The overall approach violates the first principle of peacekeeping: Never send a peace mission where there is no peace to keep. The risks of getting embroiled are especially high when the troops deployed come from a neighboring country. What’s more, the very governments that propose to serve as mediators may have a conflict of interest: They stand to gain from dispatching their soldiers, especially if the mission is funded by contributions from United Nations members.

Counterterrorism assistance has a better track record reinforcing bad government than rooting out extremists. Repression by dictators like Idriss Déby in Chad or Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso has been tolerated because their governments have supplied combat troops for operations against jihadists in the Sahara. Meanwhile, Kenya has experienced more terrorist attacks since its army moved into Somalia in 2011 to fight the radical Islamist group Al Shabab. After the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last year, Kenya’s army and police indiscriminately targeted Muslim communities — generating resentment among those groups and potentially more recruits for the militants.

Fifteen years ago, when African leaders set up their own peace and security system within what later became the African Union, they tried to balance diplomacy and armed enforcement. In case of a conflict, they would hold negotiations with all parties; sending in peacekeeping troops would only be a fallback option. But Western countries like the United States and France have tended to favor military approaches instead. During the civil war in Libya in 2011, a panel of five African presidents, established by the African Union and chaired by Jacob Zuma of South Africa, proposed letting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi go into exile in an African country and then setting up an interim government. But the plan was spurned by NATO, which preferred regime change by way of foreign intervention.

The Obama administration is aware of the dangers of supporting armed forces in Africa. At the U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, Mr. Obama announced a new Security Governance Initiative to help professionalize six African militaries and promote their being subjected to civilian oversight. This is a step in the right direction, but it is a very small step. Only $65 million has been earmarked for that program, compared with $5 billion for counterterrorism cooperation.

Washington has the means to do much more. A single aircraft carrier has a crew as large as the entire American diplomatic service posted abroad. The cost of developing the fleet of F-35 stealth fighter planes could fund the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and all United Nations peacekeeping operations for nearly 20 years. Security in Africa will not be achieved by giving more power and money to African military forces. It will be achieved by supporting diplomacy, democracy and development.

Alex de Waal is the executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University. Abdul Mohammed is the chairman of InterAfrica Group, an Ethiopian civil society organization. NYT

Kenya – HRW reports reveals killings and disappearances carried out by anti-terrorist police

Human Rights Watch

Donors Should Suspend Support for Abusive Units
AUGUST 18, 2014
(Nairobi) – There is strong evidence that Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) has carried out a series of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Human Rights Watch also found evidence of arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of terrorism suspects in detention.

Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate alleged killings, disappearances, and other abuses by the unit and hold those responsible to account. International donors should suspend support to the unit and other security forces responsible for human rights violations.

“Kenyan counterterrorism forces appear to be killing and disappearing people right under the noses of top government officials, major embassies, and the United Nations,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “This horrendous conduct does not protect Kenyans from terrorism – it simply undermines the rule of law.”

In research conducted in Kenya between November 2013 and June 2014, Human Rights Watch documented at least 10 cases of killings, 10 cases of enforced disappearances, and 11 cases of mistreatment or harassment of terrorism suspects in which there is strong evidence of the counterterrorism unit’s involvement, mainly in Nairobi since 2011.

Based on 22 interviews with family members, victims, witnesses, journalists, lawyers, imams, police officers, and terrorism suspects in Nairobi’s Majengo neighborhood, researchers found that suspects were shot dead in public places, abducted from vehicles and courtrooms, beaten badly during arrest, detained in isolated blocks, and denied contact with their families or access to lawyers. In some cases, members of the anti-riot forces known as the General Service Unit (GSU), military intelligence, and National Intelligence Service (NIS) were also implicated in abuses by the counterterrorism unit.

The ATPU was created within the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in 2003 in response to the attacks on the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and on an Israeli-owned Mombasa hotel in 2002. Terrorist attacks have increased in Kenya in recent years, particularly after Kenya sent its military into neighboring Somalia in October 2011. There were at least 70 grenade and gun attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Garissa between 2011 and 2014, with at least 30 attacks in 2012 alone, according to the US embassy. In September 2013, gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Somalia-based militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab attacked the affluent Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people and injuring hundreds.

The counterterrorism unit has not formally acknowledged responsibility for the alleged killings, although in December 2013, an anonymous member of the unit told the BBC: “The justice system in Kenya is not favorable to the work of the police. So we opt to eliminate them [suspects]. We identify you, we gun you down in front of your family, and we begin with the leaders.” Human Rights Watch’s request to discuss the findings with the ATPU commandant, Boniface Mwaniki, was declined.

The police spokesman has stated publicly that in at least three separate cases the suspects died in “fire exchange” with the unit’s officers. But Human Rights Watch findings in each of the three cases contradict that assertion. In the case of Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, for example, witnesses said that officers from the counterterrorism unit and the General Service Unit had surrounded their apartment block in Nairobi’s Githurai Kimbo estate in the evening of May 18, 2013, then stormed their apartment and shot them dead without armed resistance.

In another example, Lenox David Swalleh and an unidentified person were shot on November 13, 2013, as they left a mosque after morning prayers in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood. While police claimed that other people were killed while preparing to rob a bank, witnesses and family said the two were unarmed and were shot without warning. The men had been accused of involvement in a November 2012 grenade attack on the Hidaya mosque in Eastleigh that killed 6 and injured 15, but the two were being held at Industrial Area Remand Prison at the time of the attack and were only released on April 16, 2013.

Kenyan authorities have not effectively investigated these cases or any anti-terrorism unit officers for alleged abuses, including the targeted killings of high-profile clerics such as Sheikh Aboud Rogo in August 2012; Sheikh Ibrahim Omar, who replaced Rogo at Masjid Musa, and who was gunned down near the same place in October 2013; and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff, aka Makaburi, who was killed on April 1, 2014.

The Kenyan government had accused the clerics of recruiting youths from Masjid Musa mosque for Al-Shabaab, and was prosecuting Rogo and Makaburi on those charges. The government established a task force to investigate Rogo’s killing. The task force in August 2013 reported that police had mishandled the crime scene and recommended a public inquest. The public prosecutions director promised to set up an inquest in August 2013 but has not done so.

The counterterrorism unit receives significant support and training from the United States and the United Kingdom. A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service said that the United States had provided US$19 million to the unit in 2012 alone. The United States has not scaled down its assistance to the unit or opened an investigation into its abuses, despite credible allegations of abuse, including in the US annual human rights report on Kenya.

“The ATPU has been conducting abusive operations for years, sometimes very openly, yet the Kenyan authorities have done nothing to investigate, much less stop these crimes,” Lefkow said. “Donors need to carry out their own investigations of these abuses and suspend their assistance to abusive forces, or risk being complicit in Kenya’s culture of impunity.”

Background
Human Rights Watch research adds to the growing litany of allegations against the counterterrorism unit. In November 2013, the Open Society Justice Initiative and a Mombasa-based nongovernmental organization, Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), published a report documenting extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Mombasa connected to the unit since 2007.

In 2007 and 2008, Human Rights Watch and the Muslim Human Rights Forum separately documented the involvement of the unit and other Kenyan security forces in the arbitrary detention and unlawful rendition of at least 85 people, including 19 women and 15 children, from Kenya to Somalia. The unit has also been linked to the unlawful rendition of alleged suspects from Kenya to Kampala, Uganda, following the July 2010 World Cup bombings.

A US law, commonly known as the “Leahy Law,” prohibits support to a unit of foreign security forces if the Secretary of State has “credible information” that the unit has committed a “gross violation of human rights.” Once aid is suspended, it can only resume if the recipient government “is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.”

US officials in Nairobi have told human rights organizations they needed more evidence on individual officers to withhold support to the counterterrorism unit. While identifying the names of individual officers can be challenging, particularly as the officers allegedly involved in killings and other abuse often wear civilian clothes and conduct operations with other Kenyan security forces, the evidence is overwhelming that the unit’s officers are involved in serious abuses.

Killings with Suspected ATPU Involvement
Human Rights Watch found evidence of at least 10 cases of extrajudicial killings of terrorism suspects, some of whom were last seen in ATPU custody or had been threatened by the unit’s officers after courts had released them. Several suspects were facing terrorism-related charges and required to report to the unit either weekly or monthly and had told family and friends they had received death threats from ATPU officers they recognized. In other cases, the threats were issued in the presence of associates that Human Rights Watch interviewed.

In at least three of the killings, the unit claimed that the suspects were killed in a firefight. Human Rights Watch did not find evidence of a shootout, as witness descriptions painted to a short-lived, targeted killing by security officers and the scene suggested the shooting was unidirectional without any damage to the surrounding buildings as ATPU had suggested. In other cases, the ATPU did not accept responsibility for the killings, but its officers were either seen with the suspects before they were killed or took the bodies to the mortuary without notifying the families.

Under Kenyan and international law, police may use lethal force only when necessary for self-defense or to save a life. Section 4 of the Sixth Schedule of the National Police Service Act of 2011 requires police officers who use lethal fire to report to their immediate superior explaining the circumstances that necessitated the use of force. Section 5 of the same act requires officials to report any use of force that leads to death or serious injury to the Independent Police Oversight Authority for investigation. Police authorities have not complied with these requirements in these cases of extrajudicial killings.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials require law enforcement officials to use nonviolent means whenever possible and to use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. The principles also require governments to ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law.

Shabaan Namusenda Makotse, Mombasa, April 2013
On October 21, 2012, the ATPU published names and photographs in newspapers of four men they said were wanted terrorism suspects: Shabaan Namusenda Makotse, Hassan Omondi Owiti, Yassin Olunga (alias Ndung’u), and Ali Msadiki, the younger brother of Owiti’s wife. The statement also alleged that Makotse was connected to an October grenade attack in Likoni.

The same day, the police spokesman at the time, Eric Kiraithe, said at a news conference that Makotse and the three other men were wanted by police for planning other attacks in Mombasa.

Makotse was killed in April 2013. Two witnesses who were with him the day he was killed told Human Rights Watch that three gunmen shot Makotse as he ate fruit salad on a wooden bench in Mombasa’s Kisauni area. The witnesses said the gunmen were plain-clothes police officers whom they recognized to be members of the ATPU.

Makotse had told family and friends for several months that he was being tailed by people he recognized as ATPU officers.

Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, Nairobi, May 18, 2013
On May 18, 2013, at least eight ATPU officers, together with others from the GSU and regular police from the Githurai police station, carried out a night raid on a block of residential buildings in Githurai Kimbo estate, Nairobi, killing Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, a woman who was with him in the apartment.

In a statement to the media on May 19, the ATPU commandant, Boniface Mwaniki, said his officers had killed a man named Felix Nyangaga Otuko and his wife, a Somali national, after nearly six hours of gunfire and that the couple had hurled four grenades that injured six officers. However, one of Owiti’s relatives told Human Rights Watch that an ATPU officer called the victim’s family to the ATPU headquarters a day after the killing, where a senior officer informed them that they had killed Owiti rather than Otuko. The relatives found the bodies of Owiti and Wanjiru in the mortuary.

Three witnesses and a neighbor in the building said the security forces had surrounded the block of apartments, ordered the occupants out, and did not encounter any armed resistance or grenade attacks. Witnesses described “commandos” wearing red berets and full combat gear carrying sub-machine guns. Evidence suggests these forces were a sub-unit of the GSU that participated in the operation led by the ATPU.

“We saw several commandos wearing balaclavas in the middle of the night alight from vehicles dashing into the house,” a 34-year-old businessman who lived in a neighboring block told Human Rights Watch. “We heard continuous gunshots for about two minutes and then there was a lull in the shooting. We then heard that two terrorists had been killed.”

ATPU officers had been tracking Owiti and the three other men identified in the October 2012 statement for several months.

Khalif Mwangi, Nairobi, May 20, 2013
The mutilated body of Khalif Mwangi, 29, turned up in a sewage ditch in Nairobi West on May 20, 2013, two days after Owiti was killed. The counterterrorism unit had also been investigating Mwangi, a close friend of Owiti’s. Mwangi’s name and photo were published on a police website and by media in early 2012.

Mwangi had been missing since April 20, but family and friends were not aware of his death until an NTV broadcast showed clips of his mutilated body on May 20. A few days later, an ATPU officer informed Mwangi’s lawyer that the body was his client’s.

A relative who saw the body in the mortuary told Human Rights Watch that it bore fresh signs of torture, suggesting he had been killed just days before. “It was horrifying to view the body,” she said. “We think he was badly tortured before he was killed. His skin had been peeled off, eyes gouged out, ears burned with acid, finger nails and toes removed and the skull was broken.”

Family members said they saw ATPU officers taking fingerprints of Mwangi’s corpse at the mortuary and suspected ATPU officers were monitoring people who went to view the body. “We never picked [up] the body for burial out of fear,” said a family member.

Ibrahim Ramadhan Mwasi, Nairobi, June 17, 2013
Ibrahim Ramadhan Mwasi (alias Ruta), in his mid-20s, was shot dead on the evening of June 17, 2013, by a lone gunman. The identity of the gunman has not been established but witnesses believe ATPU officers were responsible.

Ruta was among six suspects in a grenade attack on the Machakos bus station in Nairobi on March 10, 2012, that killed 9 people and injured at least 60. The ATPU had arrested the six suspects two weeks after the attack and arraigned them in Nairobi’s Kibera court in late March 2012 on charges of engaging in organized crime and being members of Al-Shabaab, after which they were released on bond.

The others, all in their mid- to late-20s, were: Abdul Rahman Daud (Mjomba), Sylvester (Musa) Opiyo Osodo, Hussein Abbas Mwai Nderitu, Stephen Mwanzia Osaka (alias Dudah Brown), and Jeremiah Onyango Okumu (alias Dudah Black).

Three of the others disappeared. Only Nderitu and Daud are known to still be alive.

Many witnesses in Nairobi told Human Rights Watch that the ATPU had threatened to kill the six suspects. “ATPU officers started threatening the [suspects] that even if the courts freed them for lack of evidence, they would still find a way of dealing with them out there,” said one witness, a suspect also being investigated for terrorism and a close friend of Ruta.

A man in his late 20s who was with Ruta on the night he was shot recalled: “Ruta was leaving Riadha mosque in Majengo, Nairobi, after evening prayers when he decided to [use the] nearby public toilet. The lone gunman in a black leather jacket followed him there. We just heard gunshots inside the toilet. He was shot twice in the head and once in the chest. Nothing was stolen from him.”

Lenox David Swalleh and another person, Nairobi, November 2013
On November 13, 2013, the Nairobi county police commander, Benson Kibui, told Kenyan media that police had killed two of the most wanted terrorists that day but did not identify them. Human Rights Watch learned that one of the two men was 28-year-old Lenox David Swalleh.

Kibui told the media that the men were killed while on their way with two other men to rob a bank in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi. He said they were part of the terrorist group that had thrown a grenade at worshippers at Hidaya mosque in Eastleigh on December 7, 2012, killing 6 people and injuring 15, including the legislator for the area, Yusuf Hassan.

However, a family member contended that Swalleh was killed as he was returning home from early morning prayers. His body was taken away by police, and the family later identified it in the mortuary. Witnesses at the mosque confirmed that Swalleh had been in the mosque that morning.

Evidence also suggests that Swalleh was not involved in the grenade attack. Court records and interviews with other inmates indicate that Swalleh was in prison on charges of organized crime and membership in Al-Shabaab at the time of the Hidaya mosque attack.

Family members and inmates at Industrial Area Remand Prison said that ATPU officers who visited and interrogated the inmates had threatened to kill Swalleh if the court released him. He was released on April 16.

Ibrahim Tafa Tuwa and Hamisi Juma, Nairobi, January 8, 2014
On January 8, 2014, the ATPU claimed at a news conference that it had killed two other terrorist suspects in Nairobi, allegedly part of the same gang that attacked Hidaya mosque in December 2012. It did not name the two.

Witnesses said they saw ATPU officers at the scene of the killings, and a witness saw two ATPU officers take the bodies of Ibrahim Tafa Tuwa, in his mid-20s, and Hamisi Juma, also in his mid-20s, to Nairobi’s City Mortuary on that day. Both had been detained on terrorism charges with Swalleh.

Several witnesses, including former inmates who were detained with the two men, confirmed that the ATPU had visited them in prison several times and threatened to kill them if the court freed them.

“ATPU said they were in charge of running our block and could do anything with us if we did not do what they wanted,” a former inmate told Human Rights Watch. Tuwa’s relatives also said that ATPU officers had threatened to kill the suspects if they were released. The men were also released on April 16, 2013.

Sheikh Hassan Suleiman Mwayuyu, Mombasa, December 5, 2013
Sheikh Hassan Suleiman Mwayuyu, a tailor, was killed on a public minibus on December 5, 2013. Mwayuyu was returning home from the Mombasa law courts where he had attended a hearing for his sister, Rahma Hassan, who faces terrorism-related charges.

Kenyan security had described Mwayuyu as a terror suspect believed to be planning an attack. Two 2012 National Intelligence Service (NIS) reports accused Mwayuyu, along with others, of planning grenade attacks in Mombasa.

Witnesses to Mwayuyu’s death told Human Rights Watch that four gunmen blocked the minibus at around 6:15 p.m. at Tiwi junction, shot the tires, and ordered everyone inside to lie down. Another witness, a community mobilizer for a Mombasa based human rights organization, said one of the gunmen looked like an ATPU officer he had seen in court.

The ATPU had previously threatened Mwayuyu, including that same day. A relative who attended the court hearing told Human Rights Watch in a phone interview: “There were so many ATPU officers in the court. One of the officers walked over to my cousin [Mwayuyu] in court and said, ‘Today is your day and we are here to ensure you don’t continue with what you have been doing.’ It was a threat.”

A Mombasa-based Catholic cleric and human rights activist, Father Gabriel Dolan, wrote in the local Daily Nation on December 20, 2013:

(Nairobi) – There is strong evidence that Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) has carried out a series of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Human Rights Watch also found evidence of arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of terrorism suspects in detention.

Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate alleged killings, disappearances, and other abuses by the unit and hold those responsible to account. International donors should suspend support to the unit and other security forces responsible for human rights violations.

“Kenyan counterterrorism forces appear to be killing and disappearing people right under the noses of top government officials, major embassies, and the United Nations,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “This horrendous conduct does not protect Kenyans from terrorism – it simply undermines the rule of law.”

In research conducted in Kenya between November 2013 and June 2014, Human Rights Watch documented at least 10 cases of killings, 10 cases of enforced disappearances, and 11 cases of mistreatment or harassment of terrorism suspects in which there is strong evidence of the counterterrorism unit’s involvement, mainly in Nairobi since 2011.

Based on 22 interviews with family members, victims, witnesses, journalists, lawyers, imams, police officers, and terrorism suspects in Nairobi’s Majengo neighborhood, researchers found that suspects were shot dead in public places, abducted from vehicles and courtrooms, beaten badly during arrest, detained in isolated blocks, and denied contact with their families or access to lawyers. In some cases, members of the anti-riot forces known as the General Service Unit (GSU), military intelligence, and National Intelligence Service (NIS) were also implicated in abuses by the counterterrorism unit.

The ATPU was created within the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in 2003 in response to the attacks on the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and on an Israeli-owned Mombasa hotel in 2002. Terrorist attacks have increased in Kenya in recent years, particularly after Kenya sent its military into neighboring Somalia in October 2011. There were at least 70 grenade and gun attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Garissa between 2011 and 2014, with at least 30 attacks in 2012 alone, according to the US embassy. In September 2013, gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Somalia-based militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab attacked the affluent Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people and injuring hundreds.

The counterterrorism unit has not formally acknowledged responsibility for the alleged killings, although in December 2013, an anonymous member of the unit told the BBC: “The justice system in Kenya is not favorable to the work of the police. So we opt to eliminate them [suspects]. We identify you, we gun you down in front of your family, and we begin with the leaders.” Human Rights Watch’s request to discuss the findings with the ATPU commandant, Boniface Mwaniki, was declined.

The police spokesman has stated publicly that in at least three separate cases the suspects died in “fire exchange” with the unit’s officers. But Human Rights Watch findings in each of the three cases contradict that assertion. In the case of Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, for example, witnesses said that officers from the counterterrorism unit and the General Service Unit had surrounded their apartment block in Nairobi’s Githurai Kimbo estate in the evening of May 18, 2013, then stormed their apartment and shot them dead without armed resistance.

In another example, Lenox David Swalleh and an unidentified person were shot on November 13, 2013, as they left a mosque after morning prayers in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood. While police claimed that other people were killed while preparing to rob a bank, witnesses and family said the two were unarmed and were shot without warning. The men had been accused of involvement in a November 2012 grenade attack on the Hidaya mosque in Eastleigh that killed 6 and injured 15, but the two were being held at Industrial Area Remand Prison at the time of the attack and were only released on April 16, 2013.

Kenyan authorities have not effectively investigated these cases or any anti-terrorism unit officers for alleged abuses, including the targeted killings of high-profile clerics such as Sheikh Aboud Rogo in August 2012; Sheikh Ibrahim Omar, who replaced Rogo at Masjid Musa, and who was gunned down near the same place in October 2013; and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff, aka Makaburi, who was killed on April 1, 2014.

The Kenyan government had accused the clerics of recruiting youths from Masjid Musa mosque for Al-Shabaab, and was prosecuting Rogo and Makaburi on those charges. The government established a task force to investigate Rogo’s killing. The task force in August 2013 reported that police had mishandled the crime scene and recommended a public inquest. The public prosecutions director promised to set up an inquest in August 2013 but has not done so.

The counterterrorism unit receives significant support and training from the United States and the United Kingdom. A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service said that the United States had provided US$19 million to the unit in 2012 alone. The United States has not scaled down its assistance to the unit or opened an investigation into its abuses, despite credible allegations of abuse, including in the US annual human rights report on Kenya.

“The ATPU has been conducting abusive operations for years, sometimes very openly, yet the Kenyan authorities have done nothing to investigate, much less stop these crimes,” Lefkow said. “Donors need to carry out their own investigations of these abuses and suspend their assistance to abusive forces, or risk being complicit in Kenya’s culture of impunity.”

Background
Human Rights Watch research adds to the growing litany of allegations against the counterterrorism unit. In November 2013, the Open Society Justice Initiative and a Mombasa-based nongovernmental organization, Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), published a report documenting extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Mombasa connected to the unit since 2007.

In 2007 and 2008, Human Rights Watch and the Muslim Human Rights Forum separately documented the involvement of the unit and other Kenyan security forces in the arbitrary detention and unlawful rendition of at least 85 people, including 19 women and 15 children, from Kenya to Somalia. The unit has also been linked to the unlawful rendition of alleged suspects from Kenya to Kampala, Uganda, following the July 2010 World Cup bombings.

A US law, commonly known as the “Leahy Law,” prohibits support to a unit of foreign security forces if the Secretary of State has “credible information” that the unit has committed a “gross violation of human rights.” Once aid is suspended, it can only resume if the recipient government “is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.”

US officials in Nairobi have told human rights organizations they needed more evidence on individual officers to withhold support to the counterterrorism unit. While identifying the names of individual officers can be challenging, particularly as the officers allegedly involved in killings and other abuse often wear civilian clothes and conduct operations with other Kenyan security forces, the evidence is overwhelming that the unit’s officers are involved in serious abuses.

Killings with Suspected ATPU Involvement
Human Rights Watch found evidence of at least 10 cases of extrajudicial killings of terrorism suspects, some of whom were last seen in ATPU custody or had been threatened by the unit’s officers after courts had released them. Several suspects were facing terrorism-related charges and required to report to the unit either weekly or monthly and had told family and friends they had received death threats from ATPU officers they recognized. In other cases, the threats were issued in the presence of associates that Human Rights Watch interviewed.

In at least three of the killings, the unit claimed that the suspects were killed in a firefight. Human Rights Watch did not find evidence of a shootout, as witness descriptions painted to a short-lived, targeted killing by security officers and the scene suggested the shooting was unidirectional without any damage to the surrounding buildings as ATPU had suggested. In other cases, the ATPU did not accept responsibility for the killings, but its officers were either seen with the suspects before they were killed or took the bodies to the mortuary without notifying the families.

Under Kenyan and international law, police may use lethal force only when necessary for self-defense or to save a life. Section 4 of the Sixth Schedule of the National Police Service Act of 2011 requires police officers who use lethal fire to report to their immediate superior explaining the circumstances that necessitated the use of force. Section 5 of the same act requires officials to report any use of force that leads to death or serious injury to the Independent Police Oversight Authority for investigation. Police authorities have not complied with these requirements in these cases of extrajudicial killings.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials require law enforcement officials to use nonviolent means whenever possible and to use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. The principles also require governments to ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law.

Shabaan Namusenda Makotse, Mombasa, April 2013
On October 21, 2012, the ATPU published names and photographs in newspapers of four men they said were wanted terrorism suspects: Shabaan Namusenda Makotse, Hassan Omondi Owiti, Yassin Olunga (alias Ndung’u), and Ali Msadiki, the younger brother of Owiti’s wife. The statement also alleged that Makotse was connected to an October grenade attack in Likoni.

The same day, the police spokesman at the time, Eric Kiraithe, said at a news conference that Makotse and the three other men were wanted by police for planning other attacks in Mombasa.

Makotse was killed in April 2013. Two witnesses who were with him the day he was killed told Human Rights Watch that three gunmen shot Makotse as he ate fruit salad on a wooden bench in Mombasa’s Kisauni area. The witnesses said the gunmen were plain-clothes police officers whom they recognized to be members of the ATPU.

Makotse had told family and friends for several months that he was being tailed by people he recognized as ATPU officers.

Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, Nairobi, May 18, 2013
On May 18, 2013, at least eight ATPU officers, together with others from the GSU and regular police from the Githurai police station, carried out a night raid on a block of residential buildings in Githurai Kimbo estate, Nairobi, killing Hassan Omondi Owiti and Shekha Wanjiru, a woman who was with him in the apartment.

In a statement to the media on May 19, the ATPU commandant, Boniface Mwaniki, said his officers had killed a man named Felix Nyangaga Otuko and his wife, a Somali national, after nearly six hours of gunfire and that the couple had hurled four grenades that injured six officers. However, one of Owiti’s relatives told Human Rights Watch that an ATPU officer called the victim’s family to the ATPU headquarters a day after the killing, where a senior officer informed them that they had killed Owiti rather than Otuko. The relatives found the bodies of Owiti and Wanjiru in the mortuary.

Three witnesses and a neighbor in the building said the security forces had surrounded the block of apartments, ordered the occupants out, and did not encounter any armed resistance or grenade attacks. Witnesses described “commandos” wearing red berets and full combat gear carrying sub-machine guns. Evidence suggests these forces were a sub-unit of the GSU that participated in the operation led by the ATPU.

“We saw several commandos wearing balaclavas in the middle of the night alight from vehicles dashing into the house,” a 34-year-old businessman who lived in a neighboring block told Human Rights Watch. “We heard continuous gunshots for about two minutes and then there was a lull in the shooting. We then heard that two terrorists had been killed.”

ATPU officers had been tracking Owiti and the three other men identified in the October 2012 statement for several months.

Khalif Mwangi, Nairobi, May 20, 2013
The mutilated body of Khalif Mwangi, 29, turned up in a sewage ditch in Nairobi West on May 20, 2013, two days after Owiti was killed. The counterterrorism unit had also been investigating Mwangi, a close friend of Owiti’s. Mwangi’s name and photo were published on a police website and by media in early 2012.

Mwangi had been missing since April 20, but family and friends were not aware of his death until an NTV broadcast showed clips of his mutilated body on May 20. A few days later, an ATPU officer informed Mwangi’s lawyer that the body was his client’s.

A relative who saw the body in the mortuary told Human Rights Watch that it bore fresh signs of torture, suggesting he had been killed just days before. “It was horrifying to view the body,” she said. “We think he was badly tortured before he was killed. His skin had been peeled off, eyes gouged out, ears burned with acid, finger nails and toes removed and the skull was broken.”

Family members said they saw ATPU officers taking fingerprints of Mwangi’s corpse at the mortuary and suspected ATPU officers were monitoring people who went to view the body. “We never picked [up] the body for burial out of fear,” said a family member.

Ibrahim Ramadhan Mwasi, Nairobi, June 17, 2013
Ibrahim Ramadhan Mwasi (alias Ruta), in his mid-20s, was shot dead on the evening of June 17, 2013, by a lone gunman. The identity of the gunman has not been established but witnesses believe ATPU officers were responsible.

Ruta was among six suspects in a grenade attack on the Machakos bus station in Nairobi on March 10, 2012, that killed 9 people and injured at least 60. The ATPU had arrested the six suspects two weeks after the attack and arraigned them in Nairobi’s Kibera court in late March 2012 on charges of engaging in organized crime and being members of Al-Shabaab, after which they were released on bond.

The others, all in their mid- to late-20s, were: Abdul Rahman Daud (Mjomba), Sylvester (Musa) Opiyo Osodo, Hussein Abbas Mwai Nderitu, Stephen Mwanzia Osaka (alias Dudah Brown), and Jeremiah Onyango Okumu (alias Dudah Black).

Three of the others disappeared. Only Nderitu and Daud are known to still be alive.

Many witnesses in Nairobi told Human Rights Watch that the ATPU had threatened to kill the six suspects. “ATPU officers started threatening the [suspects] that even if the courts freed them for lack of evidence, they would still find a way of dealing with them out there,” said one witness, a suspect also being investigated for terrorism and a close friend of Ruta.

A man in his late 20s who was with Ruta on the night he was shot recalled: “Ruta was leaving Riadha mosque in Majengo, Nairobi, after evening prayers when he decided to [use the] nearby public toilet. The lone gunman in a black leather jacket followed him there. We just heard gunshots inside the toilet. He was shot twice in the head and once in the chest. Nothing was stolen from him.”

Lenox David Swalleh and another person, Nairobi, November 2013
On November 13, 2013, the Nairobi county police commander, Benson Kibui, told Kenyan media that police had killed two of the most wanted terrorists that day but did not identify them. Human Rights Watch learned that one of the two men was 28-year-old Lenox David Swalleh.

Kibui told the media that the men were killed while on their way with two other men to rob a bank in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi. He said they were part of the terrorist group that had thrown a grenade at worshippers at Hidaya mosque in Eastleigh on December 7, 2012, killing 6 people and injuring 15, including the legislator for the area, Yusuf Hassan.

However, a family member contended that Swalleh was killed as he was returning home from early morning prayers. His body was taken away by police, and the family later identified it in the mortuary. Witnesses at the mosque confirmed that Swalleh had been in the mosque that morning.

Evidence also suggests that Swalleh was not involved in the grenade attack. Court records and interviews with other inmates indicate that Swalleh was in prison on charges of organized crime and membership in Al-Shabaab at the time of the Hidaya mosque attack.

Family members and inmates at Industrial Area Remand Prison said that ATPU officers who visited and interrogated the inmates had threatened to kill Swalleh if the court released him. He was released on April 16.

Ibrahim Tafa Tuwa and Hamisi Juma, Nairobi, January 8, 2014
On January 8, 2014, the ATPU claimed at a news conference that it had killed two other terrorist suspects in Nairobi, allegedly part of the same gang that attacked Hidaya mosque in December 2012. It did not name the two.

Witnesses said they saw ATPU officers at the scene of the killings, and a witness saw two ATPU officers take the bodies of Ibrahim Tafa Tuwa, in his mid-20s, and Hamisi Juma, also in his mid-20s, to Nairobi’s City Mortuary on that day. Both had been detained on terrorism charges with Swalleh.

Several witnesses, including former inmates who were detained with the two men, confirmed that the ATPU had visited them in prison several times and threatened to kill them if the court freed them.

“ATPU said they were in charge of running our block and could do anything with us if we did not do what they wanted,” a former inmate told Human Rights Watch. Tuwa’s relatives also said that ATPU officers had threatened to kill the suspects if they were released. The men were also released on April 16, 2013.

Sheikh Hassan Suleiman Mwayuyu, Mombasa, December 5, 2013
Sheikh Hassan Suleiman Mwayuyu, a tailor, was killed on a public minibus on December 5, 2013. Mwayuyu was returning home from the Mombasa law courts where he had attended a hearing for his sister, Rahma Hassan, who faces terrorism-related charges.

Kenyan security had described Mwayuyu as a terror suspect believed to be planning an attack. Two 2012 National Intelligence Service (NIS) reports accused Mwayuyu, along with others, of planning grenade attacks in Mombasa.

Witnesses to Mwayuyu’s death told Human Rights Watch that four gunmen blocked the minibus at around 6:15 p.m. at Tiwi junction, shot the tires, and ordered everyone inside to lie down. Another witness, a community mobilizer for a Mombasa based human rights organization, said one of the gunmen looked like an ATPU officer he had seen in court.

The ATPU had previously threatened Mwayuyu, including that same day. A relative who attended the court hearing told Human Rights Watch in a phone interview: “There were so many ATPU officers in the court. One of the officers walked over to my cousin [Mwayuyu] in court and said, ‘Today is your day and we are here to ensure you don’t continue with what you have been doing.’ It was a threat.”

A Mombasa-based Catholic cleric and human rights activist, Father Gabriel Dolan, wrote in the local Daily Nation on December 20, 2013:

On December 2, I received a text message from Mombasa police warning church leaders that a certain Sheikh Suleiman Mwayuyu was planning to burn select churches within Diani, Changamwe and Kisauni the following day. This particular warning was unusual on two counts: that a particular planner of the violence was named and that the same man was killed three days later.

Possible Enforced Disappearances
Human Rights Watch documented the enforced disappearances of at least 10 young men by ATPU officers from Nairobi between 2011 and 2013. The men faced terrorism-related charges in various Kenyan courts, were under investigation by the ATPU, or had been acquitted. All of them had told family members, friends, and associates whom Human Rights Watch interviewed that they received direct death threats from ATPU officers.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Kenya has not signed, defines an enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of the liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Sylvester (Musa) Opiyo Osodo and Jacob (Yaqub) Musyoka, Nairobi, May 23, 2012
Sylvester (Musa) Opiyo Osodo and Jacob (Yaqub) Musyoka, both in their late 20s, were kidnapped by at least 10 armed men on May 23, 2012, at around 8 p.m. when their vehicle broke down outside Nakuru at the Molo-Mau Summit junction, along the Nakuru-Kisumu highway.

Witnesses and family members believe ATPU officers abducted them because the men had been threatened and were facing charges. Osodo was among the six accused in the Machakos bus station bombing case. Musyoka, who became a friend of Osodo’s in the Industrial Area Remand Prison in March 2012, was facing charges of engaging in organized crime.

The two men were travelling from Nairobi to Kisumu with two women and two school-age children wearing school uniforms. According to witnesses, the car broke down several times that day and the group decided to spend the night in the car in Molo after a mechanic was unable to repair it. That evening, the armed men witnesses believed to be plain-clothes officers forced the men into their car and drove away, leaving the women and children in the car. The men have not been seen since.

Friends and family members believe the abductors were ATPU officers because Osodo had recognized a senior ATPU officer following them in a white car when they stopped in Nakuru earlier that day to fix a tire.

“Osodo assured the group not to worry because he had informed the lawyer representing him in the case with five others in Nairobi about the trip and his lawyer had alerted the ATPU headquarters as per conditions set by ATPU,” the witness said.

During court proceedings, which continued even after suspects either disappeared or were killed, the ATPU claimed the two had fled to Somalia. However, according to the defense lawyer, the ATPU failed to present a report of their investigations to the court as would have been expected.

Jeremiah Onyango Okumu, Stephen Mwanzia Osaka, Salim Abubakar Hamisi, and Omar Shwaib, Nairobi, June 26, 2012
Jeremiah Onyango Okumu (alias Duda Black) and Stephen Mwanzia Osaka (alias Duda Brown), both in their mid-20s, were also among the six men facing terrorism-related charges for the March 2012 Machakos bus station bombing.

They vanished on the evening of June 26, 2012, along with two other young men, Salim Abubakar Hamisi and Omar Shwaib (alias Justo), a day before the two were due back from a shopping trip to Mombasa.

A relative said she last talked to Okumu at 4 p.m. on June 26, during which he said they had bought everything they wanted and would take a bus back to Nairobi on the morning of June 27. “After that, his phone started going unanswered,” she told Human Rights Watch. “The family they were putting up with in Mombasa’s Kisauni neighborhood reported that they had not returned home that evening.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed witnesses in Mombasa who saw the four men being kidnapped at around 5:30 p.m. by several armed men in civilian clothes near the Likoni ferry. Several of the witnesses said they recognized the armed men as ATPU officers.

Dudah Black and Dudah Brown had told family and associates several weeks before they disappeared that the ATPU was threatening them. The Likoni Ferry Police Post officers did not respond even though the men were abducted nearby and appeared unconcerned when relatives reported the disappearance. A duty officer at Likoni Ferry Police Post advised the family to look for their bodies in the mortuary, as they had been shot by police.

The families of the four men never found their bodies. On June 30, they gave statements about their missing relatives at Nyali Police Station, near Kisauni, where the four had been staying in Mombasa, but police did not respond.

During court proceedings in the Machakos bus station bombing case, the prosecutor told the court that Dudah Black and Dudah Brown had both fled Kenya to avoid prosecution and that the authorities had not pursued any further investigations.

Abdulaziz Muchiri and Ali Kipkoech Musa, Nairobi, May 6, 2013
Abdulaziz Muchiri, 24, and Ali Kipkoech Musa, 22, both of whom were being investigated by the ATPU over their possible links to Al-Shabaab, were arrested by ATPU officers using what appeared to be excessive violence, at Musa’s house in the Kariobangi South neighborhood at 5 p.m. on April 20, 2013. They were detained without charge and appeared in court twice, but then were taken to an undisclosed location and remain missing.

A man who witnessed the arrest told Human Rights Watch: “The officers arrived in six white Toyota vehicles, with each vehicle carrying up to five officers, and immediately ran to their flat on the ground floor. The young men did not resist the arrest but the officers just descended on them with force. They then dragged them on the ground to the waiting vehicle.”

The men’s families learned about their arrests after the two called from police custody three days later. Relatives of both men said that they were in poor condition, their bodies were swollen, and their clothes were stained with blood. Musa’s mouth, face, and back were bruised and he could not walk, relatives said.

The ATPU failed to take the men for medical treatment, the relatives said. In a hearing on April 22, 2013, the court extended their detention by 14 days at the ATPU’s request, in the absence of the accused and their lawyers, their lawyer and families said.

The two men were last seen in court on May 6, 2013. “An ATPU officer walked over to the judge and whispered in her ear,” recalled one relative who attended the hearing. “The judge then directed him to remove the accused from the courtroom…. We tried to follow them … but the officers ordered us to wait outside. They told us the charges had been dropped.”

The ATPU officers then drove off with the two men in a black land cruiser, family members said. In the court files, the police prosecutor indicated that the two men were responsible for training terrorists in Kenya and, on the day of their arrest, had attempted to kill officers. An ATPU affidavit stated that the two men were arrested with hand grenades and 20 rounds of ammunition. The file also shows that the ATPU dropped charges against the two.

The families have tried to file complaints but have been turned away at several police stations and have been sent from station to station. “No one wants to touch the case,” said a relative of Muchiri. Since they last appeared in court, the authorities have provided no information about their whereabouts. The ATPU has denied to the men’s lawyer that the men are in its custody.

Yassin Olunga and Ali Musadiki, last seen in Nairobi in April 2013
Two other young men who police said were under investigation for terrorism, Ali Musadiki, in his teens, and Yassin Olunga (alias Ndung’u), in his mid-20s, were last seen on April 2013 in Nairobi. The ATPU had published their photos, together with a photo of Owiti, Musadiki’s brother in-law, in Kenyan newspapers on October 21, 2012, describing them as terrorists planning attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi.

Their whereabouts are unknown, as is who is responsible, but family and friends suspect that ATPU officers killed or kidnapped them because the two men had several times told family members they had been followed by known ATPU officers from Mombasa. Family members reported the men’s disappearance to police in Nairobi but the families say they are unaware of any ongoing investigation.

Harassment, Threats, and Mistreatment in Detention
Human Rights Watch found that ATPU officers harassed, threatened, and beat suspects, and held them for long periods without judicial review or the chance to object to extension of their detention periods. Under Kenyan law, suspects must be brought before a court within 24 hours and have the right to be present when a court decides whether to extend their detention.

In the Muchiri and Musa cases, ATPU officers kicked and beat the suspects with gun butts, then dragged them to a waiting car. The officers detained the two suspects for 16 days without treating the injuries inflicted during the arrest and failed to notify their families about the arrests. The officers also did not present the suspects in court, as required by law, while seeking orders to extend their detention.

In four additional cases Human Rights Watch documented, ATPU officers beat suspects, did not bring them to court as required, and held them for long periods without charge.

The wives of two terrorism suspects were detained with their week-old babies on two separate occasions in Nairobi in March 2012. A 41-year-old grandmother said she was summoned to the ATPU headquarters in Nairobi after police killed her relative: “They accused me of … receiving dollars from terror groups. They said it was only a matter of days before they kill me the way they killed my [relative]. I know they will kill me, yet I have done nothing wrong.”

The ATPU also arrested and detained minors. In one example, a 17-year-old student at a Nairobi school told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested in April 2012 and detained for a year, first at Garissa police station and then in Shimo la Tewa prison:

I was interrogated by ATPU officers for days in the absence of an adult or a lawyer. I was then taken through a normal court process and not a juvenile court as required. An appeal court judge freed me after one year and criticized the lower court for failing to protect our rights and convicting us without evidence.

http://m.hrw.org/news/2014/08/18/kenya-killings-disappearances-anti-terror-police

BBC

Kenya’s anti-terror unit guilty of abuses, says HRW

Kenya’s security forces have been trying to curb the threat posed by militants

Kenya’s Western-funded anti-terrorism unit has carried out a series of killings and “enforced disappearances” during its fight against militant Islamists, a rights group says.

“Horrendous” activities were taking place “right under the noses” of the government, Western embassies and the UN, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

The US and UK fund the unit.

The unit was set up in 2003, five years after al-Qaeda simultaneously bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

More than 200 people were killed in what was then the most high-profile attack by al-Qaeda.

Suspects shot dead’
Kenyan, US and UK officials have not yet responded to HRW’s report.

It had documented evidence of “at least 10 cases of killings, 10 cases of enforced disappearances, and 11 cases of mistreatment or harassment of terrorism suspects”, mainly in the capital, Nairobi, since 2011, HRW said.

“Suspects were shot dead in public places, abducted from vehicles and courtrooms, beaten badly during arrest, detained in isolated blocks, and denied contact with their families or access to lawyers,” it said in a report.

“Donors need to carry out their own investigations of these abuses and suspend their assistance to abusive forces, or risk being complicit in Kenya’s culture of impunity,” HRW added.

The “horrendous conduct” of the unit would not protect Kenya from terrorism, it said.

“It simply undermines the rule of law,” the New York-based group added in a statement.

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group has carried out a wave of attacks in Kenya since 2011.

Last year, 67 people were killed after the group launched an assault on the upmarket Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi.

Al-Shabab said the attacks were in response to Kenya’s decision to send troops to Somalia to bolster the weak UN-backed government.

IMG_0776.JPG

Food security crisis for east and central Africa

IRIN

NAIROBI, 13 August 2014 (IRIN) – Some 20 million people are facing acute food insecurity in eastern and central Africa, with most of them being at “crisis” and “emergency” levels, according to aid agencies. This figure compares unfavorably with 15.8 million people in July 2013.

The affected countries include Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

“The overall nutrition situation in the region has deteriorated precipitously and, according to survey results, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels are higher than 20 percent, exceeding the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent, especially in parts of South Sudan, CAR, Somalia and northern Kenya,” said the East and Central Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), a multi-stakeholder regional forum chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FSNWG warned that the situation could deteriorate further in the absence of quick action.

“FSNWG strongly believes that in the absence of an increased and immediate multi-sectoral response, the food and nutrition status of affected populations is likely to deteriorate further.”

It added that “the countries of major concern with regard to food and nutrition insecurity are the conflict-affected South Sudan, CAR, DRC and Somalia.”

Four countries – South Sudan, DRC, CAR and Somalia – all grappling with conflict – account for over 10 million people facing food insecurity.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Categorization (IPC) scale, at least 20 percent of people must have significant food shortages and there must be above normal acute levels of malnutrition for a situation to be declared an “acute crisis”. For “emergency” levels, there must be high levels of acute malnutrition and at least 20 percent of people must have extreme food shortages.

South Sudan

In South Sudan where some one million people have been displaced by violence, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned in its latest situation report that while famine has not been declared, “humanitar¬ians are concerned about severe food in¬security and the poor nutrition situation.”

Access to those in need of food aid has been hampered by insecurity. An OCHA report in August said aid agencies had stopped distribution activities, including food distribution, after six local aid workers were killed in Maban County in Upper Nile State.

Somalia

In Somalia where a famine three years ago left an estimated 250,000 people dead, many of them women and children under five, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU, a FAO body) warmed in early July that “the food security situation is expected to deteriorate in the months ahead due to reduced crop production resulting from poor seasonal Gu rains (April to June), a surge in prices of basic commodities and reduced livestock production.”

Among displaced communities in Mogadishu, GAM levels of 18.9 percent have been reported, surpassing the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

The situation has been worsened by both insecurity, which has hampered access to those in need, and inadequate funding.

FAO has warned that the food security situation is expected to deteriorate in the months ahead due to reduced crop production resulting from poor seasonal rains, a surge in prices and reduced livestock production.

The government has already declared drought in seven out of 18 regions and warns that, if urgent measures are not taken there would be a repeat of the 2011 famine. The UN warned in July that Somalia risked sliding back into famine.

On 8 July, UN human rights expert Bahame Tom Nyanduga said: “Unfortunately, in spite of the early warning indicators, there appears to be inadequate response to a potential catastrophe, which could erode some of the gains of the Federal Government of Somalia to safeguard and guarantee the rights to life and the right to food for [a] considerable number of Somali citizens.”

CAR

In CAR where there are an estimated 512,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including some 87,000 in the capital Bangui; 1.7 million people (out of a population of 4.6 million) are estimated to be food insecure, according to FAO.

FAO has called for an urgent response to the needs of local farmers, adding that their “vulnerability continues to rise and livelihoods are increasingly at risk”.

Renewed fighting from 30 to 31 July in Batangafo caused the displacement of some 20,000 people inside the town and thousands more on major roads in the region.

DRC

In the DRC where political violence and inter-communal strife have persisted for decades, at least 4.1 million people are facing “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity and are likely to remain in this position until December 2014.

According to a recently released Global Emergency overview (by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and Action Against Hunger), “the most acutely affected areas are Punia (Maniema, Babira and Bakwame sectors) in Maniema Province, and Manono, Mitwaba, and Pweto in Katanga. Other areas facing `crisis’ conditions are in South Kivu, the Punia border areas in Maniema Province, and Katanga.”

It added: “Needs are highest in the conflict-affected regions of North Kivu, South Kivu, Katanga, and Orientale, where there is large-scale, repeated displacement. IDPs, host populations, and those unable to flee are all vulnerable as insecurity poses multiple protection risks and prevents access to basic services, although needs vary according to geographic area and conflict dynamics.”

“Conflict and displacement along the border with CAR, and armed groups in the Kivu region continue to be of concern and [a] cause of food insecurity,” said FSNWG.

Kenya

In Kenya, an estimated 1.3 million people – 300,000 of whom are either at “crisis” or “emergency” levels – require support to cushion them against food insecurity, according to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group.

“With below-average household incomes, price increases for maize will result in reduced purchasing power for poor, urban consumers as well as poor households in the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. In pastoral areas, the poor livestock body conditions make the livestock more susceptible to disease. The competition for limited rangeland resources between now and September increases the risk of conflict,” FEWS NET said in July.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, FEWS NET said most pastoral areas would remain stressed even with humanitarian assistance.

“Poor households in the highlands of Arsi Zone in central Oromia have moved into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) having lost Belg crops typically harvested in June/July and a large number of livestock. Their food security is unlikely to improve until the Meher harvest in October,” it said.

At least 2.2 million people there require food aid, according to FSNWG.

Burundi

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), at least 682,000 people are either in “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity. In the northeast, food production levels were 40-60 percent below average as a result of poor Season B rainfall.

However, food security conditions are expected to improve with the availability of Season A green harvests in December.

Uganda

Some 252,810 people, many of them in Karamoja, are either in “emergency” or “crisis” levels.

FEWS NET noted in July that “in Karamoja, the September/October harvest is expected to only be 20 to 30 percent of average. There will be minimal green consumption this year, and households will not see the usual post-harvest increase in food access. Despite adequate availability of staple food on the market at stable prices, households’ constrained income means they have limited ability to purchase food. Eastern parts of the region are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through December.”

Sudan

Seasonal food security improvement is expected as harvests begin in October. Still, an estimated 5.3 million people in Sudan face Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity.

Conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and West Kordofan, have disrupted livelihoods and reduced household food access, especially for IDPs, while the persistent rise of staple food prices has reduced household capacity to meet minimum food requirements during the peak of the lean season when households are most market dependent.  IRIN

Kenya – flights and entry suspended over ebola

Nation

Kenya Airways temporarily suspends flights to Liberia, Sierra Leone

Kenya Airways has temporarily suspended its commercial flights to Liberia and Siera Leone effective August 19, 2014 following a situation risk assessment by Kenya’s Ministry of Health. The two countries have been affected by the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD). PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MARTIN KINYANJUI

The national carrier Kenya Airways has temporarily suspended its commercial flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The two West African countries have been hit by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) which has claimed the lives of 1,145 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, as of August 13, 2014.

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni said in a statement released Saturday that the operational decision will be effective at midnight on Tuesday August 19, 2014.

He added that the decision was based on the situation risk assessment by Kenya’s Ministry of Health.

Mr Naikuni further said that those who had been booked on the suspended flights would get a full refund of all tickets earlier booked and paid for prior to the suspension.

NIGERIA, GHANA NOT SUSPENDED

He added that flights to Nigeria and Ghana had not been suspended.

“I wish to confirm that Kenya Airways will continue operating all its scheduled flights to Nigeria and Ghana.

“However, in the interest of public safety for both our esteemed guests and staff, we reserve the right to cancel our flights to any other destination should the situation warrant,” said Mr Naikuni.

By August 13, 2014, there were 786 cases of EVD in Liberia with 413 deaths while Sierra Leone had 810 cases with 348 deaths.

Nigeria, on the other hand, had 12 reported cases and four deaths.

This is according to statistics released by the World Health Organization’s Global Alert and Response (GAR) programme.

At the same time, Guinea had 519 cases with 380 deaths.

WHO has said that it will take another six months to contain the Ebola outbreak.

FIRST EBOLA CASES

The first Ebola cases were reported in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The latter was in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease got its name.

TRANSMISSION
EVD gets into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.

Health workers have often been infected with Ebola while treating patients suspected or confirmed to be having EVD.

This normally results from close contact with patients in situations where proper measures to control infection are not strictly enforced.

In Africa, Ebola has been documented to be transmitted through contact with infected animals such as monkeys and porcupines found ill or dead.

It then spreads through human-to-human transmission.

DIRECT CONTACT

Infection mainly results from direct contact with the blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids of infected people. This happens through mucous membranes or broken skin.

It can also result from indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.

Before declaring one to be suffering from Ebola, other disease that have symptoms similar to it should first be tested and ruled out.

These include malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, plague, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.

NO VACCINE OR CURE

According to WHO, there has not been any safe cure or vaccine for Ebola so far.

The organisation says rumours on social media claiming that some practices or products could prevent or cure EVD were misleading.

It says the use of such products and practices can be dangerous and should be avoided.

In Nigeria, two people were recently reported to have died after drinking salt water which had been rumoured to be protective. nation

BBC

Kenya to close borders to travellers from Ebola states

An medical worker feeds a child who is infected with the Ebola virus at a Medecins Sans Frontieres facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone - 15 August 2014Medecins Sans Frontieres says the outbreak will take at least six months to bring under control

Kenyan officials say the country is closing its borders to travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak.

Kenya’s health secretary said Kenyans and medical workers flying in from those states would still be allowed in.

Kenyan Airways says it will stop flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone when the ban comes in on Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Kenya is at “high risk” from Ebola because it is a major transport hub.

The epidemic began in Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

On Friday, the death toll rose to 1,145 after the WHO said 76 new deaths had been reported in the two days to 13 August. There have been 2,127 cases reported in total.

Kenyan health officials take the temperatures of passengers arriving at the Jommo Kenyatta International Airport - 14 August 2014Health officials say the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel is low

Earlier, Kenya’s health ministry said four suspected cases of Ebola in the country had tested negative for the virus.

The cases had involved a Liberian national and two Nigerians who had recently travelled to Kenya as well as a Zimbabwean.

Kenyan Airways said it had decided to cancel flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone’s capitals after advice from Kenya’s government.

It said all passengers booked on the suspended flights would get a full refund.

The company said its flights to Nigeria were not affected by the suspension.

‘Strict checks’

Announcing the government’s decision, Kenyan Health Minister James Macharia said it was “in the interest of public health”.

He warned that Kenyans and health workers who had returned from the three west African states would face “strict checks” and would be quarantined if necessary.

On Friday, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the outbreak would take at least six months to bring under control.

MSF President Joanne Liu said the situation was “deteriorating faster, and moving faster, than we can respond to”.

The WHO also admitted that the scale of the outbreak appeared to be “vastly underestimated” and said “extraordinary measures” were needed to contain it.

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is infected.

Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

The WHO says the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel remains low.

line
Coloured transmission electron micro graph of a single Ebola virus, the cause of Ebola fever
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but the current outbreak is about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats are considered to be virus’ natural host
  • BBC

Heavy fighting breaks out in South Sudan as sanctions loom

Sudan Tribune

August 15, 2014 (JUBA) – Heavy fighting erupted on Friday between South Sudan army (SPLA) and rebels in Unity state, with the latter accusing pro-government forces of attacking their positions in violation of the ceasefire agreement.

JPEG - 10.5 kb
South Sudanese rebel troops loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar stand on guard in Unity state capital Bentiu on 12 January 2014 after recapturing the strategic town from government troops (Photo: Reuters)

The rebel spokesperson, Peter Riek Gew told Sudan Tribune that fighting started at dawn in Guit, Kaljak and Kuergueyni areas of the oil-rich state.

“We surprised this morning when the SPLA attacked three of our position in Unity state. This is a very clear signal that the government was not committed to the peace talks,” Gew said by satellite phone.

“The battle is now around the main capital, Bentiu pushing the SPLA troops away from three attacks on our position this morning to Maan Kuach, 3 km west of Bhar main military barrack in Rubkotna county and Thowmangor, [located] 4 km south of Bentiu town,” he added.

The rebel spokesman accused government troops of mistreating innocent civilians in its controlled areas, an allegation Sudan Tribune could not independently verify.

“We are ready to fight them if this is their plan to attack us. Meanwhile our leaders are currently engaged in peace,” he stressed.

The rebel military spokesperson, Brig. Gen Lul Ruai Koang further claimed the “long awaited” government offensive operations against rebels had started east and south of Bentiu as well as around Ayod in Unity and Jonglei states respectively begun at dawn.

“This is totally unacceptable development and the blame squarely lies at the [president Salva] Kiir’s door steps,” he said in a statement issued Friday.

The two warring parties have repeatedly traded accusations of violating the ceasefire agreement signed on 23 January and re-committed to on 9 May in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The South Sudanese army spokesperson was not readily available for a comment.

NO MILITARY SOLUTION

On Tuesday, Samantha Power, the United States special envoy to the United Nations said the Security Council was concerned over reports that arms were being brought in to South Sudan, stressing that there was no military solution to the young nation’s conflict.

“The council has made it very clear that it is prepared to impose consequences if there continue to be spoilers, if there continue to be people carrying out gross violations of human rights, United states ambassador to the united nations,” said Samantha.

“We will not tolerate violation of the cessation of hostilities and people who spoils peace agreement. We have delivered that message here and we will deliver it to Riek Machar,” she stressed.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry on Monday accused both sides of failing to commit to the peace process, a day after they failed to meet the 60-days ultimatum to form a transitional government.

(ST)