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Israel, UK aiding Kenya assassinations of terrorism suspects: report

Kenya has assassinated nearly 500 terrorism suspects as part of an extrajudicial killing program aided by Israeli and British intelligence, according to an Al Jazeera investigation
Kenyan police officers reportedly said Israel and the UK provide training, equipment and intelligence to Kenya (AFP file photo)

Kenyan police, aided by intelligence and training from Israel and the United Kingdom, have assassinated nearly 500 terrorism suspects as part of an extrajudicial killing program, according to an Al Jazeera documentary aired Monday.

Officers from four units of Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) said that police assassinated terrorist suspects on government orders, according to the report, Inside Kenya's Death Squads which was broadcast on the international TV station Monday night and is available on the Al Jazeera website.

ATPU officers said Israel and the UK provide training, equipment and intelligence to Kenyan officers on how to “eliminate” suspects targeted by Kenyan security forces, according to Al Jazeera.

Israel and the U.K. denied involvement. The UK Foreign Office added that it had “raised concerns” with Kenya over the “serious allegations.”

The British High Commission in Kenya told Bloomberg.com the UK’s support to Kenya’s Anti-Terrorist Police Unit is delivered in line with guidelines for assistance to foreign security services. It’s designed to improve Kenyan capacity in accordance with international human rights standards, the high commission said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“If there is credible evidence that our support is being misused we will take immediate action,” it said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Security Council members have denied the allegations.

“There is no truth in that report, it’s a total exaggeration,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told Bloomberg in a phone interview Monday. “We don’t have a killer squad. The people interviewed could not be verified as members of our security forces.”

The Star of Nairobi reported that a police spokesperson, Zipporah Mboroki, declined to comment about the report as she has not seen it.

But, the programs manager at the Independent Medico Legal Unit, Hadley Muchela, told The Star that he was not surprised. He said his organisation had recorded 182 extra-judicial killings in the last 11 months.

Meanwhile, Kenya on Tuesday ordered Al Jazeera to be placed under investigation and face possible charges over the report.

The Kenyan government said the Al Jazeera documentary was "scandalous and unethical". It insisted it "does not operate death squads".

"The government has filed a formal complaint with the Media Council of Kenya, requesting them to investigate Al Jazeera for professional misconduct," a government statement said.

"Furthermore, given the apparent capacity of the documentary to undermine the country's security and our fight against terrorism, the government has instructed the relevant authorities to begin investigations with a view to bringing charges against those involved in the documentary," it added.

The rare threat of charges comes a day before Kenyan lawmakers are due to debate the hardening of security laws.

Proposals include jail terms of up to three years for journalists broadcasting reports deemed to "undermine investigations or security operations relating to terrorism," according to a draft seen by AFP.