Some of the 48 members of the new all-female Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) police unit during their graduation at Ngong Police College presided over by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’I in August. The elite unit will enhance security in Nairobi through regular patrols. [Cyrus Ombati, Standard]

A team of heavily armed all-female police unit wearing balaclavas is on the prowl on the streets of Nairobi.

The new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team - the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa - patrols on foot and sometimes in all-terrain vehicles.

Drawn from the Administration Police Service, the 48 officers graduated in combat training in August from a police training camp in Ngong.

It is now out for some five-month action on street patrol before retreating back to Ngong.

These are not your ordinary female police officers. 

For five months, they underwent intense physical and combat drilling. Their training included handling a variety of weapons and explosives as well as boxing, wrestling, judo and karate.

The team can also scale multi-storey buildings and rescue hostages. This was just the first phase of a 15-month training programme.

These women can take on the toughest fellow on the street in unarmed combat, lay ambushes and counter ambushes as well as conduct jungle operations.

They are also some of the best sharp shooters in the region. Recently, a member from the group led the team to win the Women Pistol Shooting competition at the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation games in Kasarani, Nairobi.

They will scale buildings, out-drive fleeing carjackers and criminals on the streets and stop the bullet for VIPs. The team can also assemble an improvised explosive device, safely disarm it and take it apart piece by piece.

Administration Police Service boss Noor Gabow was excited to have the new unit out on the streets.

“They will enhance police visibility and sufficiently respond to distress calls from the public while supplementing any existing ground forces,” he said.

According to Mr Gabow, the team is one of the best in the region and there are plans to expand it.

“We hope to deploy them to other places and train more. They are ready to serve anywhere,” he said.

Presiding over their combat training graduation in mid-August this year, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i was impressed with the new unit's skills.

“What we have witnessed today gives us confidence that we have the capacity to protect our people. We can rest assured that we have more officers who can undertake intricate security operations,” said Dr Matiang'i.

He said Kenya was now prepared to handle emerging security threats.

Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai commended the collaboration achieved in training the team.

The new unit joins others within the National Police Service that are usually on standby for special operations.

They include the Recce of the General Service Unit, Special Crimes Prevention Unit, Flying Squad and Rapid Deployment Unit.

"The new team can handle any situation a male officer with similar training can," said the Administration Police boss.