Three more people have been killed in Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties as bandits continue to defy heavy security presence in the region declared dangerous and disturbed.
On Wednesday, the bandits launched twin attacks in Kosile and Ng’aratuko villages in the volatile Saimo-Soi ward in Baringo North, killing a herder and driving away livestock.
The residents have hit out at the government for failing to contain the persistent insecurity and questioned the purpose of the ongoing security operation, particularly the deployment of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops.
“The bandits are carrying out their attacks freely yet the government is telling us there is an operation. We do not see the value of the operation because the bandits are terrorising us,” said Ms Winnie Kanda, a resident.
Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap, while leading a demonstration in his backyard, said the security operation in the region could collapse due to the ongoing bandit attacks.
“Since the day the KDF were deployed here, there has been poor response to banditry cases because of poor coordination. KDF troops are just in the camps while police are clearly overwhelmed and are waiting for backup. KDF have never responded to the attacks as it was expected since they are commanded by the police,” said the MP.
He said the existing police units like GSU should be well equipped to handle the bandits instead of deploying KDF soldiers who never respond to the attacks.
In Turkana County, one person was killed after armed bandits ambushed a public vehicle along Kitale-Lodwar highway in what could be viewed as a change of tactic by the bandits.
County Police Commander Samwel Ndanyi said the public service vehicle heading to Kitale from Lodwar was attacked on Wednesday evening by about 10 bandits near Kaakong Centre.
“One of the passengers, 30-year-old Jackline Ekai, was killed while the driver, David Wekesa, and another passenger, 14-year-old Diana Akila, were injured after being shot in the neck and the left leg respectively. The bandits stole all the valuables,” Mr Ndanyi said.
He said a multi-agency security team engaged the bandits in a fierce shootout and that security has been beefed up along the highway to protect motorists.
“Daring bandits are even attacking villages near Loyapat where KDF officers have established a camp. It is high time the multi-agency security teams identify the bandit hideouts and bomb such places,” said Jimmy Loree, a Turkana South resident.
Tension has gripped the affected villages in the region following the repeated attacks.
The attacks happened just a day after angry residents held public protests on Monday and confronted Deputy Inspector General of police Noor Gabow over the incessant attacks in the region.
The deputy police IG was recently deployed to Chemolingot, Tiaty as the commander of Operation Maliza Uhalifu North Rift, to coordinate the ongoing security operation to smoke out bandits and seize illegal guns.
On seeing Mr Gabow, the protestors demanded that he alight from his vehicle and explain why attacks by bandits had increased despite the ongoing operation.
Transport was paralysed for hours after protestors barricaded the Loruk-Marigat road, with those plying the route being left stranded, including learners who were reporting to their respective schools after the mid-term break.
They said they will not allow vehicles to ferry foodstuffs to the neighbouring Tiaty Sub-County, which they said was harbouring the bandits.
The Wednesday Baringo North killing brought to three the number of people killed in just 10 days, with four others, including a Grade Five pupil, nursing gunshot injuries. There have been more than 14 attacks in the region in the same period.
In the Wednesday attack, the criminals drove away with 66 cows and 70 goats towards Loyamorok in Tiaty sub-county. The first attack happened at 1pm when dozens of raiders struck a few metres from Ng’aratuko Primary School.
Reporting by Florah Koech, Fred Kibor and Sammy Lutta