The International Crime in Africa Programme (ICAP), in partnership with the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Nairobi, hosted a refresher training course for bomb technicians at the Eka Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. A total of 19 bomb technicians from Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya attended the course. It is international good practice that all trained bomb technicians receive refresher training at least every 24 months to keep them updated on the latest bomb technology and bomb disposal techniques.
This course was the first of its kind in Eastern Africa. Three experienced trainers, each with more than 20 years of experience as bomb technicians in the South African Police Service, accompanied the team leader Willem Els as facilitators. Eliud Lagat from the Kenyan Police Bomb Disposal Unit doubled up as facilitator and took responsibility for the logistics for the course, which was officially opened by Julius Maritim from the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Nairobi.
The Kenyan Police Bomb Disposal and Hazardous Devices Unit provided the course with their specialised bomb disposal equipment, including live explosives. Various practical scenarios were presented to the learners during daylight, as well as two very trying night-time scenarios. The Somalian participants worked for the first time with the X-ray and rigging equipment.Such equipment is not regularly accessible to them, despite their exposure to bomb incidents on an almost daily basis. Trainees from Kenya served as in-service trainers during the practice sessions and scenarios to train the Somalian technicians in the use of the advanced equipment.
One of the participants had been injured in a car bomb attack on 8 November, during which an MP and police officers had been killed. A ‘come on’ bomb in a laptop had been detonated to drive people towards a vehicle bomb. This bomb tech approached the bomb, which was detonated when the tech was eight metres from the vehicle. He sustained head and shoulder wounds and some burn wounds from the explosion, but refused to miss out on the course. He arrived in Nairobi on Sunday with his injuries and had to be taken to the hospital for further stitches and other treatment. He provided a presentation at the course and reflected on the key lessons emerging from the incident.
Key elements of the training:
- Introduction to bomb disposal equipment (including those to be available for the scenarios), including safety measures and interpretation of X-rays
- Introduction to state-of-the-art explosives rigging kits and presentation of rigging scenarios
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for managing bomb scenes and post-blast investigations
- Post-blast investigations
- Day-time and night-time scenarios, implementing SOPs
The final field exercise was attended by Greg Mallet, the Mission Security Specialist Detachment Commander; Sonia Hooykaas, the Security Programme Manager from the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi as well as Johan Moolenaar, the Attaché immigration and police affairs from the Dutch Embassy. Julius Maritim represented the Regional Bureau of Interpol. Brian Oppelt, the South African Police Service representative in Nairobi, also attended and was introduced to the learners to facilitate cooperation relating to investigations in the region.
(Picture by Willem Els)