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ITWeb Africa

Tuesday, Jan 21st

'Kenya telecom CEOs co-operating with police'

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The chief executives of Kenya's four mobile phone operators said all subscribers on their networks are registered and they are co-operating in a police probe into the alleged illegal sale of unregistered phone lines.

The executives were addressing reporters on Tuesday after local media, quoting the cabinet minister for information technology, reported they could face arrest over use of unregistered cell phone lines.

"The mobile operators continue to maintain and update a registered subscriber base of over 30 million mobile phone users," the chief executives said in a joint statement.

The minister's comment followed an attack at the Westgate shopping mall in the capital, where at least 67 people were killed last month.

Security camera footage of the attackers inside the mall, released by the Kenyan military over the weekend, showed one of the attackers from the Somali militants al Shabaab group speaking on a mobile phone.

Industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) said at a news conference on Monday some operators were selling and activating mobile phone lines without registering users, contrary to regulations.

Police boss David Kimaiyo attended the press briefing by CCK, fuelling speculation the crackdown is linked to the Westgate attack.

The executives had earlier recorded statements with the police separately. Kenyan regulations require all operators to register mobile phone line users to help curb phone-based crimes.

Safaricom is the biggest operator in the market, which also features Bharti Airtel, Orange SA and India's Essar Telecoms.

Police were not immediately available for a comment. Several suspects are being held for questioning on the attack at Westgate.

A United States Navy SEAL team swooped into Somalia last Saturday morning in an operation targeting a senior al Shabaab figure known as Ikrima, Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar, suspected of plotting serial attacks in Kenya.

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