Baringo bandit paradise goes quiet

Rapid Deployment Unit

Police from the Rapid Deployment Unit during an operation in Baringo County.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Bandits in the area are responsible for unconfirmed deaths.
  • The area's rugged terrain is conducive for criminals to hide.

A multi-agency team carrying out an operation in banditry-prone areas in Baringo County appears to have managed to flush out the criminals after last year’s bombing of the Korkoron Hills, Tandare, and Ng’elecha valleys, aerial surveillance and intensified patrols in the hideouts gauging from the relative calm that has been observed in the region.

The pasture-rich banditry-prone areas had turned into a bandit’s-paradise, which had invaded them and displaced inhabitants from their homes, resulting in several deserted villages.

Since 2021, armed criminals have invaded the dreaded Korkoron Hills, Tandare, and Ng’elechavalleys in the banditry-prone Baringo South with their thousands of livestock, in the guise of looking for water and pasture, and in the wake of it unleashing terror and displacing locals.

The Korkoron Hill faces the porous Kasiela and other dozens of villages.

On the other side, it faces Ng’elechaValley which is also a den of criminals where stolen livestock is hidden inside the inaccessible valley. No one can dare access the area unnoticed. 

Bandits hiding in the hills and valleys are responsible for the deaths of an unconfirmed number of people and displacement of thousands of others in Kitorongon, Menmeno, Seretion, Chepng'anian, Kapsikwon, Lomulel and Korkoron, Kapkechir, Tuiyotich and Korkoron, Lamaiywe, Karne, Tuiyotich, Kapkechir, Tandar, Sinoni, Kasiela, Arabal and Kapindasum villages. 

The pasture-rich areas turned paradise has no accessible roads and are characterized by rugged terrains, playing advantage to the criminals who sit on the hilltops, surveying their surroundings and targets.

They border dozens of desolate villages whose occupants fled due to the series of attacks. 

The rugged terrain coupled with the sweltering heat is conducive for criminals to hide.

Whenever stolen livestock are driven by raiders towards Korkoron or Ng’elechahills, chances of recovering them are very minimal. 

The areas had become so insecure that for police reservists or security officers scaling them, it was a death trap because the criminals would spot them climbing from the foot, and lay ambush before they could reach their hideout.

Often they would don jungle green attire for camouflage and ambush unsuspecting security personnel, most of who were unfamiliar with the terrain

The areas were gazetted by the government in February 2023 as dangerous and disturbed, and mapped for a security operation. 

However, the multi-agency team appears to have managed to flush out the armed criminals and secure the places, a move that has seen sanity restored and prompted displaced locals to stream back into their homes. 

In March 2023, the multi-agency-military backed security team carrying out a security operation in Baringo County bombed the dreaded Korkoron and Tandare Hills in a bid to smoke out the bandits, areas that had been mapped out by the government as bandits’ hideout in Baringo South.

This was after the government ordered civilians in the notorious Tandare, Korkoron, Karau, and Ng’elecha Hills, Ramacha, Rugus, and Losokoni caves, Laramoru and Amaya Gorges and Noosidan escarpment to vacate the area harboring the armed criminals being targeted in the ongoing security operation.

According to the Baringo County Police Commander Julius Kiragu, a General Service Unit (GSU) camp established at the foot of Korkoron Hills in the insecurity-prone Lamaiywe village last year came in handy in flushing out the armed attackers. 

“The government deployed two platoons of GSU officers at Lamaiywe to restore sanity and pave the way for the repatriation of people into their homes. With the assistance of the multi-agency team carrying out security operations in the region, we also carried out aerial surveillance which assisted us in tracing the areas where the armed attackers hid,” he told Nation.

He explained that with the help of police reservists, patrols were intensified in the notorious areas where the criminals had invaded and they managed to smoke out the criminals. 

“As we speak, the areas are now secure and locals who had been displaced have moved back to their homes,” said Mr Kiragu.

70 NPRs are tasked to carry out routine patrol in more than six deserted villages suspected to be bandits’ hideouts, covering a distance of more than 30kms every day on foot. The reservists carry out patrols in Tandar, Korkoron, Seremwe, and Ng’elecha areas.

A police reservist (NPR) narrated to Nation how they have to wake up by 3am to be able to reach the hilltops on time.

“We have a daily routine, for an entire week where we have allocated ten people who go into the bushes to man the hotspot areas. Our day starts at 3am so that we can reach the target observation points and take cover before the ‘enemy’ can spot us,” said the police reservist.

The NPRs underwent a one-month paramilitary training last year which also appears to have helped them a lot on tactics of repulsing and flushing out the attackers.

“I must confirm that those criminals are well trained and to counter their tactics, we had to undergo paramilitary training last year that assisted and equipped us with the skills of dealing with the criminals. With the help of police, we managed to flush them out in the dreaded valleys and hills where they were hiding,” the reservist who sought anonymity told Nation.

“We usually ensure that we assign ourselves and dominate Korkoron hills, Tandare, and Ng’elechavalleys to secure it so that no criminal invades the area again. These are areas that had turned bandits’ hideouts and there is no way we are going to allow them to intrude again because if they manage, they will attack the locals and cause unrest again,” said the NPR.

He revealed that they have more than 15 counterparts from the desolate Ng’elecha who have helped them traverse the dreaded area during routine patrols. 

“We used to advance every day to the areas they had inhabited and when they realized that we were pursuing them, they moved away with their livestock and finally left. As we speak, the area is now peaceful and some locals have started to settle and do some farming after fleeing the attacks in 2012,” he added.

To avoid being spotted by the armed attackers, the reservists organize themselves in groups, allocating themselves hours and different directions to avoid being trailed.

“We no longer do our change over in the bushes as we used to avoid being attacked. When a group returns from routine patrol, the squad leader informs his counterpart in the other group so that they can prepare themselves to take charge. By doing so, we can know if bandits have intruded on the villages and any other details,” explained the NPR.

In March last year, a senior GSU officer was shot dead while another sustained gunshot wounds after they were ambushed and attacked by bandits a few meters from the hill while carrying out normal patrols.

Due to the incessant attacks since 2012, villages bordering Ng’elechaHill have remained deserted with social amenities including health facilities and schools completely vandalized by the criminals who are now the inhabitants.

They include Laramoru, Ngelecha, Koisarat, Katipsogon, and Ramacha villages which have been left desolate since 2012.