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US firm hires ex-soldiers for foreign tasks

By | March 21st 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Cyrus Ombati and David Ochami

An American private security firm has set up a base in Nairobi to recruit former members of the armed forces for jobs abroad.

The company has set up offices at the Ukulima Co-operative Building on Hailesellasie Avenue, where recruitment has been ongoing in the past weeks.

The same company has offices at the Railways Club where applicants undergo interrogation.

Ex-armed officers, who attended the interviews on Sunday, said they had been told they would go to work in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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"They say successful candidates will be taken to Iraq and Afghanistan but I am not sure. You may find we are going to Libya," said a man, who claimed to be a former military soldier.

At the 12th floor of the building where the offices of the company are based, there were about 40 men queuing to be served.

They all carried documents with anticipation of being successful. Some looked tired after traveling from upcountry.

Those interviewed said the company requires a valid passport, certificate of good conduct, certificate of appointment and that one must have handled guns for at least three years while in service.

Those who were sacked for various reasons must have stayed out for seven years to qualify for recruitment.

After one is recruited, his fingerprints are taken and kept by the company managers.

Those who succeed in the first phase are sent to a private hospital in Langata where they undergo mandatory HIV/Aids tests.

"Those found to be HIV positive are not taken for the job. They are sent away," said another ex-police officer, who said he had come from Samburu.

The company operates 24 hours and according to a register there, job seekers had been coming even at midnight.

Successful candidates are on every Wednesday flown out of the country to their places of work after being paid Sh50,000, which they leave with their families.

Guards at the building said there have been about 40 people who had been reporting at the floor since Wednesday.

"We are informed the last group left the country last week. Some of them have been spending nights there," said a guard there.

A manager at the office, who refused to identify himself, said they are legally registered without elaborating.

He later ordered the removal of journalists from the floor.

There have been speculations Kenyans are involved in fighting in Libya to help Colonel Muammar Gaddafi stay in power.

Defecting officials from the Libyan regime have been claiming Kenyan mercenaries are fighting on Gaddafi’s side.

One of them, Nouri al Masmari who has been chief of protocol for the Libyan government told Al Jazeera that the presence of Kenyan mercenaries in the North African country has been "confirmed".

"It was, officially confirmed by the Kenyan government that some mercenaries are being flown into Libya," he said.

No official word has come from the Government.

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