What you need to know:
- The attacks happened in Baringo and Turkana, three days after Prof Kindiki announced the second phase of an operation against bandits in the Kenyan North
- In Baringo, bandits attacked Kagir village, Baringo North, at dawn, shooting dead a 44-year-old and driving away more than 200 livestock
- In Turkana South, they launched an attack at Lorogon village, killing 25-year-old Erukudi Lotit, but did not steal any livestock
Two more people were killed in separate attacks by bandits on Wednesday, even as the government deployed more troops and heavier artillery amid an expected air and land operation to smoke the criminals out of their hiding places.
The attacks happened in Baringo and Turkana counties three days after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced on Sunday the start of the second phase of the operation in the security-troubled Kenyan North.
In Baringo, bandits attacked Kagir village, Baringo North, at dawn, shooting dead a 44-year-old and driving away more than 200 livestock, while in Turkana South, they launched an attack at Lorogon village, killing 25-year-old Erukudi Lotit. They did not steal any livestock.
Still, in Baringo North, bandits attacked mid-morning in the Chemoriongion area, but after a fierce gunfight with security officers, they were repulsed.
On Wednesday, top security chiefs attended a security meeting in Baringo, with outgoing County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa declaring “the mother of all operations” targeting the criminals. Korkoron Hills, Tandare Valley, Ng’elecha Hills, and Gorges, as well as Silale Gorges in Baringo County are targeted for the operation.
Pror Kindiki on Sunday named areas considered crime scenes harbouring bandits and ordered law-abiding citizens to vacate immediately.
Following the CS’s order, troops have been arriving in the hotspot areas in Baringo, Samburu, Turkana, West Pokot, Laikipia, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, declared by the government as dangerous and disturbed.
Additional troops have since Monday been arriving in the target areas, accompanying an assortment of artillery, signaling preparedness to begin tackling the criminal elements wreaking havoc in the region.
Turkana County Commissioner Jacob Ouma said about five bandits attacked the village, and they were later repulsed by Anti Stock Theft Unit officers.
"We don't know what the motive was because the areas they were shooting from is an area on the banks of Turkwel, locals engage in small-scale mining activities," Mr Ouma said.
The Turkwell Escarpment is among areas within Turkana and West Pokot counties that had been earmarked for the security operation but were later excluded by Prof Kindiki.
Turkana South locals have now raised concern over the renewed spate of attacks, coming in the wake of the declared military-backed security operation in the troubled Kenyan North.
"The attacks are being carried out almost daily, leading to loss of lives and livestock. We need to see the operation results and the bandits wiped out because we are living in constant fear of attacks," said Elijah Kipkurui, a Lorogon village resident.
He said the government should not wait for another day but start flushing out the bandits from their hideouts.
"Lives are being lost at an alarming rate and further delays in dealing with the criminals will cost more lives," he said.
'Mother of all operations'
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan chaired a security meeting that brought together top security chiefs, including Rift Valley Police Commander Tom Mboya, at Chemolingot Deputy County Commissioner’s office in Tiaty, Baringo County.
Mr Jaldesa, the Baringo County Commissioner regretted the incidents, saying it was just a matter of time before the bandits are subdued.
"The ongoing exercise will be a mother of all operations and soon the elusive peace will be enjoyed by all," said the administrator.
He said the bandits have perpetuated impunity for long enough and their time was up.
In the Turkana South attack, Kaputir location chief Hosea Emeri said that bandits started shooting indiscriminately towards Lorogon village, where residents were going about their daily activities.
"25-year-old Erukudi Lotit was shot dead in an incident that spread fear among residents. Residents view the incident as a calculated move by bandits to forcibly evict them," Mr Emeri said.
The local administrator noted that the bandits retreated after security officers from the nearby Anti Stock Theft Unit responded.
Early Saturday morning, the bandits shot dead two people and injured four others.
"I first saw several armed bandits emerging from a thicket in a calculated move to ambush herders whose livestock were feeding on seed pods from huge Acacia trees. I ran back to the house as gunshots rented the air," Mr James Lokwawi, 45, who is nursing bullet wound at Lodwar County Referral Hospital said.
Mr Lokwawi said that while running for his life, he was shot in the hand.
"I was terrified and my target was to reach my house where I saw blood from the hand and realised that I was shot," he said.
Dr Kidalio Ekiru, Lodwar County and Referral Hospital Deputy Director and Head of Clinical Services said that the eldest patient, 77-year-old Lode Lomokol, sustained a bullet wound on the chest.
"We first drained around 400 milliliters of blood from the injured part of the chest. The patient doesn't require any surgical intervention but only conservative management," Dr Ekiru said.
Residents said they have for a long time been grazing together with their Pokot counterparts at Lorogon, but the renewed attacks were fueling animosity.
"At the moment we are living in fear of more attacks, hunger, and starvation. Whenever there is an attack some also flee to safer towns," Mr Gilbert Kerio, said.
He called on security officers to boost security through enhanced patrols and systematic targeting of bandits in the area for either arrest or elimination.