Kenya has deported 17 Somali recruits who were undergoing police training in the country.
The recruits were among 200 selected for training to pioneer a new police force for the troubled Horn of Africa country.
But there are conflicting reports on why the 17 were sent home, just two weeks into training at the Kenya Wildlife Service's Manyani camp in Coast Province.
Police sources said they had been sent home after breaking out of camp and fighting at a trading centre near the camp. But KWS and a top police official denied the 11 of them had been sent home due to indiscipline.
"Eleven of those affected were declared unfit to continue with the course while six voluntarily gave up training, saying it was too strenuous," said the organisation's head of communications, Ms Connie Maina.
This was also the line adopted by deputy police commissioner Lawrence Mwadime, who visited the camp yesterday with Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia, Mr Mohammed Affey.
Mr Mwadime said theirs was a routine visit to assess the progress of the remaining recruits.
However, police sources privately told the Nation that the 17 were sent packing for indiscipline after a fight.
"They were arrested by officers from the Manyani police post and taken to Voi police station where they slept overnight before being repatriated," said a security officer who spoke to the Nation on condition that he would not be named.
He said the Somalis sneaked out of the college to Manyani shopping centre, where they started fighting.
But Ms Maina insisted that no fight took place. The recruits only exchanged words with the office after they were declared unfit to continue with training, she said.
"The 11 recruits were not happy with the decision to discontinue their training and they protested bitterly about it and that is what happened," said Ms Maina.
She said it was normal for recruits to be dropped after further assessment at camp.
"It is not strange for recruits to be discontinued as this is what normally happens even with our own KWS recruits," she said.
Mr Mwadime said the suspects were not arrested for any offence but only passed through Voi police station on their way to Somalia.
Mr Affey also insisted that the Somali police recruits were repatriated on medical grounds.
"Further medical tests carried on the recruits had established some of them still had bullets lodged in their bodies due to the injuries inflicted on them in the war-torn country and they could not cope with the strenuous training," he said.
Mr Affey said Kenya had invested a lot in the Somali peace process and the police training was part of efforts to ensure stability in the country.
The trainees are expected to form the nucleus of a new police force to speed up return of law and order to Somalia and prop up the government installed about two years ago.