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Kenya Police force launch operation to mop
up unlicensed firearms amid crime surge

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Friday launched an operation to recover 4,293 unlicensed firearms held by civilians in the wake of spike in violent crimes like burglaries and carjacking in major cities.

Hillary Mutyambai, inspector general of Police, said the mopping up exercise of unlicensed firearms is in line with the government’s quest to boost public security which is key to sustain national cohesion and economic growth.

"There are 4,293 gun owners who are deemed to be in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The owners of these weapons will henceforth be treated as armed and dangerous criminals," said Mutyambai.

"An operation to apprehend, disarm and discharge the culprits will immediately begin," he added.

The police boss revealed that the list of unlicensed gun owners has already been submitted to regional commanders to pave way for recovery and arrests.

"Further, all firearm dealers are hereby directed to declare and handover any firearms and ammunitions surrendered by owners to nearest police stations," said Mutyambai.

He directed family members of deceased owners of unlicensed firearms to surrender them to the Fire Arms Licensing Bureau or police stations within their jurisdiction within 24 hours.

Cabinet secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Fred Matiang’i in early February ordered the Civilian Firearms Licensing Board to commence a rigorous vetting exercise of all firearms dealers, civilian firearm holders and shooting range owners to verify authenticity of their licenses.

Matiang’i was responding to a surge in gun-related crimes in his quest to overhaul the country’s civilian gun licensing regime.

The vetting exercise unearthed lapses in the acquisition, use, possession and transfer of firearms. According to the police chief, 9,398 registered gun owners were vetted while 6,958 were cleared.

Likewise, the civilian firearms licensing board confiscated 1,493 firearms and 21,732 assorted ammunitions.

Mutyambai said that about 4,407 registered gun owners who never submitted themselves to the mandatory vetting exercise will have their licenses revoked.

He clarified that firearms are not issued to civilians for prestige and warned against their misuse which could attract stiff penalties.


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