Former Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya claimed that bandits wreaking havoc in Laikipia are using sophisticated weapons and most people thought it was a joke.
But on October 12, security officers killed an armed bandit in Longowean, Samburu West and recovered an M16 rifle that had 25 rounds of ammunition. The bandit was among a gang that had attacked the area and driven away 27 heads of cattle.
Police arrested Dakitari Lokombayo and presented him at Maralal court last week Tuesday and is still being held as the police were given two weeks to conclude investigations.
Earlier on, Natembeya said that while the police are using ordinary AK-47 and G3 rifles, he wondered where the bandits got the M16 and other military weapons.
Intelligence reports indicate that they get the sophisticated weapons and food from their leaders in support of Moranism.
According to Nation, Ethiopian rebels known as Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) anf others are the main sources of such guns.
They are then smuggled to the country through porous boarders. The DCI have commenced their investigations into this.
A senior officer at DCI said the assault rifle recovered from the arrested bandit had a flag of a neighboring country and was manufactured in the US.
Gun laws are strict in Kenya. For one to acquire, it requires a comprehensive background check and interviews. However, pastoralist communities who rarely have government security get the guns from black market.
These rifles are acquired from leaders who support cattle rustling. They offer them at a price between Ksh 5000 and 20,000 or two cows depending on the type of gun.
Kenya easily gets the guns as it is surrounded by countries in conflict such as the South Sudan where local communities sell them for food.
Others are Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda. The Deputy Director of the National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Mr. Charles Owino said the government is not giving up on the war on illegal firearms.
He added that East African countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and the 15 countries who are members of the Nairobi Protocol for the prevention, control and reduction of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes region and the horn of Africa to fight against the proliferation of illegal firearms in the region.
A security expert, Mr. Richard Otieno said it’s a family of military rifles adapted from the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle for the US army.
The original M-16 rifle was 5.56mm×45mm assault rifle that can fire 40-60 rounds per minute.
In 1964, M-16 entered the US military service and in the subsequent year, it was deployed for use in jungle warfare during Vietnam war.
It has been widely adopted by armed forces around the world. The worldwide production of M-16 rifles is approximately eight million of the 5.56 mm caliber.
In 2016, a report indicates that there are over 600,000 illegal firearms among the pastoralist communities in Kenya and up to 700,000 illicit arms countrywide .