The Kenyan Police Service (KPS) has taken delivery of United States-made bomb disposal equipment for use in anti-terror operations by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Bomb Disposal Unit.
The equipment includes a digital X-ray scanner, three mobile bomb detecting robots, bomb disposal suits and other specialised detection and disposal tools.
A statement from the US Embassy in Nairobi said the equipment has been provided under the auspices of the Department of State’s Anti-Terror Assistance Programme, which has provided training and equipment to the KPS Bomb Disposal Unit for the past six years.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the equipment in Nairobi, US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said the donation demonstrates that the United States and Kenya will continue to co-operate in assistance programmes directed against the terror threat posed by al-Shabaab and of late, some home-grown militant groups.
“The United States stands with Kenya in its fight against terrorism. This donation is a mark of our commitment to work with Kenya to end the threat from al-Shabaab. “We are impressed by the professionalism and effectiveness of the Bomb Disposal Unit and will continue to assist with training and equipment as we work together to put a stop to terrorism,” Ambassador Godec said.
He said the Kenyan police have been trained on how to use the equipment in detecting car bombs, explosive packages, suicide vests and the methods used by terrorist groups to package, conceal, transport and plant bombs. Ambassador Godec said the three mobile robots, which form part of the donation, were used by international bomb disposal experts in clearing the Westgate Shopping Mall of potential explosive devices following the Nairobi terrorist attack which killed 67 people last month.
The United States has also provided bomb detection and disposal training to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). The training, which was provided between 2010 and 2011 by trainers from the US Army’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)’s Train the Trainer programmes covered operational risk management, first aid, explosive ordnance disposal safety precautions and fuse functions.
Subjects covered in the basic course included lessons in the identification of smaller ordnance which includes grenades, projectiles, rockets and projectile fuses. The expanded courses covered the identification of ordnance such as bombs, bomb fuses, missiles, sub-munitions and dispensers. The KDF units were also trained in protective works, demolition firing systems and demolition materials.
Kenya becomes the second African country to receive the US-made bomb disposal robots. In July this year, the Nigerian Police Service (NPS) received two similar bomb detection devices from the Department of State’s Anti-Terror Assistance programme. Among other operational capabilities, the robots can carry out remote-controlled detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and immobilize explosives-laden vehicles.
The robots were meant to strengthen the security forces in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group which has staged devastating bomb attacks across the country and frequently employs IEDs. Members of the NPS Bomb Disposal Unit have also been trained in modern bomb disposal techniques and explosive investigations through the ATA programme.