Military personnel converge at the Eldoret Airstrip on Sunday in preparation for an operation in Mt Elgon District, where Sabaot Land Defence Force militia are believed to be hiding. Picture by Biketi Kikechi
A massive millitary operation is underway in Mt. Elgon area to flush out the notorious Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF). The government seems to have been prompted into action following the death of 12 people in the area last week.
As of this afternoon, up to 30,000 residents were said to have been fleeing their homes with Mt. Elgon Member of Parliament Fred Kapondi accusing the government of bombing villages instead of pursuing SLDF raiders into the Mt. Elgon forest.
Mt. Elgon has remained a major security flashpoint ever since President Kibaki took power in 2002 but problems in the area have their origins as far back as 1963. The ragtag militia known as SLDF has been blamed for most of the killings in the area and the motive of the group is reportedly to seek redress for alleged injustice during land distribution in the Chebyuk settlement scheme.
So volatile is the area that raiders have repeatedly raided the police station in the area. The former Mt. Elgon MP John Serut, himself a target of the raiders, had his brother killed by the raiders in 2007 as a warning to himself and his family. Serut hardly spent the night in the constituency during his days as a legislator.
The situation in Mt. Elgon has deteriorated so much so that the Head of the Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF) mission in Kenya, Mr. Remi Carrier termed it 'below human dignity'. The press in Kenya also called the Mt. Elgon insecurity a disgrace.