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Gun toting teenagers terrorising Nairobi

More teenagers are taking to crime. According to county police commander Benson Kibue six out of ten of armed robbers in Nairobi arrested or gunned down are aged between 14 and 20 years.

In December, police shot and killed a 14-year-old boy on Outering Road after a fierce exchange of fire.

According to police, the boy had been involved in a series of carjackings, shoplifting and muggings. Two of his accomplices, believed to be age mates, escaped during the shootout.

The shooting took place a week after four other suspects were killed outside Jam Rescue. Police said they recovered a pistol.

Three of the suspects shot dead, among them the brother of a famous comedian, were teenagers.

“The gang was armed with an AK-47 rifle, a homemade gun and several rounds of ammunition,” said Mr Kibue.

He added a majority of those arrested or killed by mobs for mugging or other violent crimes were also teenagers. Some were school boys.

Residents of Dandora will tell you that teenagers are the most feared members of their society. They say the teens do not fear anyone and are prepared to rob, rape and kill.

Social demographer and professor of sociology at Maseno University, Charles Ocholla says teenagers are getting into crimes after being influenced by their peers.

“It is not because they lack basic needs. They only want to live like their friends and attain a particular status. They have been made to believe that it is cool to be involved in criminal activities,” said Prof Ocholla.

He advises parents to take time, however busy they are, and talk to  their children.

“They should also monitor the company their children keep,” he said.

The don says the social media and TV could also be promoting the culture of crime since the youth want to practise what they watch.

“Then there is the use of drugs by teenagers and lack of parental guidance. It is made worse by the fact that it is very easy to acquire small arms these days in Nairobi,” Prof Ocholla said.

The annual Crime Report released by the Inspector General of police David Kimaiyo ranked Nairobi ninth countrywide.

Mr Kimaiyo said organised gangs and proliferation of firearms were the biggest challenges in fighting crime.

Mr Kibue said youth engagement in crime made it hard to identify them because they usually have no identification documents.

“In such cases, taking their fingerprints cannot do much. We also find it hard to know if the youngster has been involved in criminal activities before,” he said.