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Lobby protests killing of Coast juvenile gangs

A human rights organisation has asked security agencies to adopt new strategies to end juvenile criminal gangs in the Coast region instead of executing them.

Haki Africa says the rise of criminal gangs is is a consequence of social problems such as unemployment and drugs abuse. And yesterday police said at least 119 juveniles linked to organised criminal gang involved in a spate of armed attacks in Mombasa have been arrested and charged in a court of law in the last one week.

National Police Service spokesperson Charles Owino said the gang members operating in Kisauni, Timbwani in Likoni, Mishomoroni in Mombasa county and in Matuga in Kwale county are usually armed with knives and other crude weapons. They are also involved in narcotics business.

The gangs, he said, target pedestrians and motorists early in the morning and in the evening adopting indiscriminate stabbing of their victims as their mode of operation.

The lobbyist said if the social problems are solved, criminal gangs will reduce. “Killing youth should not happen. Any suspect should be arrested and charged in a court of law.

To deal with the problem, there is need for police to change tactics from killing suspects to socially mobilising community’s around security issues,” said Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid.

Similar concerns were also raised by Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa researchers who termed the rise of juvenile criminal gangs as an extension of radical extremism.

Owino said the service has brought on board the Kenya Red Cross to initiate sustainable income-generating projects such as carwashing to ensure the unemployed and idle youths are consistently engaged in resourceful activities.

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