The Star (Nairobi)

18 August 2012

Kenya: Police Seek Choppers to Fight Against Terror

THE Kenya police will acquire two combat helicopters to boost its air wing to effectively respond to terror threats. The government has also acquired more than 200 new vehicles for the regular, administration, military police and the Kenya Wildlife Service. They were imported from China and offloaded at the port of Mombasa this week.

The vehicles, which include heavy double-cabin 4-wheel drives, arrived on board Mv Grant Cosmos and were transferred to a container freight station, awaiting to be transferred to the security departments. They were cleared by Mitchell Cotts Freight Kenya Ltd. AP spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said he was waiting for confirmation before releasing the information to the press.

At the same time, the Star has established that plans for the procurement of the two choppers possibly the Russian made helicopters, mainly used by defence forces, are at an advanced stage. The agreement was reached after a top consultative meeting where initial plans to acquire an additional light police choppers this year was canceled and they preferred for more powerful choppers for deployment purposes.

Police spokesman Erick Kirathe confirmed to the Star that indeed there is plan to acquire modern combat choppers with a capacity to carry more than 10 officers but could not divulge more details about the procurement. "I know that there was that intention but at this time I cannot tell you at what point the procurement process is," said Kirathe.

The government has in the past acquired Russian made BRDM-3 reconnaissance vehicles and helicopter gunships for Kenya Defence forces since the government incursion in Somalia. Police sources say the current fleets of choppers are not powerful for intense deployment especial in areas with heavy terrains.

The police department is looking for serviceable and affordable helicopter gunship preferably from Russian and China, according to security officials. Speaking in Mombasa Kiraithe said the department is sourcing funds, awaiting grant from the China government for equipping the force in response to terror and the next general election.

The recent development by police comes after their administration wing AP acquired two choppers from the United States. Already the first chopper, a Bella 407 has been shipped into the country through the port city of Mombasa. Administration Police (AP) Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua said the chopper which was procured through open tender will help the AP unit boost the war against terrorism.

Mbugua said a second chopper is also expected in the country later this year and funds have been allocated. Kiraithe announced that they are expecting 400 new modern fleet of vehicles for the police departments this year to be procured from other countries and others sourced from local dealers.

The acquisition of choppers come as Kenya's electoral commission says it requires, a total of 99,000 police officers to man the polling stations during the election period to avert repeated of the violence witnessed during highly contested 2007- 2008 general election. The police was criticized for failing to coordinate security during the post-election period, leading to the killing of some 1, 300 Kenyans who were shot, hacked or burnt alive during revenge attacks in various parts of the country.

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