EFENairobi

Large pyres of illicit firearms were set ablaze in the outskirts of the Kenyan capital on Tuesday as part of a government initiative to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the East African country, an epa journalist reported.

Some 5,250 seized assault rifles, handguns and homemade pistols were publicly incinerated in a ceremony presided over by Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto and Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery near the town of Ngong on the outskirts of Nairobi.

A statement released on Tuesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta's office said the arms "were collected through voluntary surrender, recoveries from criminals, and through disarmament initiatives undertaken by Government in different parts of the country."

The statement added that the weapons presented a threat to "Kenya's peace and stability because they are easily available, relatively cheap and simple to handle and conceal."

Giving a speech at the event, deputy leader Ruto urged all citizens to hand over any unauthorized firearms.

An epa journalist captured the officials inspecting the pyres before they were doused with fuel and set alight as the residents from the town of Ngong watched on.

Illegal firearms entering Kenya are generally credited with fueling urban crime such as armed robberies and car-jacking, ongoing tribal conflicts and illegal poaching.

The weapons also risk falling into the hands of al-Shabab militants, whose Somalia-based insurgency has spilled over into Kenya's northern and eastern borderland with a recent surge in localized terror attacks.

Kenyan officials said the stockpiles of seized weapons were a result of nine years of confiscations.

The majority of the firearms had allegedly been smuggled in from conflict-ridden Somalia and South Sudan.