What you need to know:
- Military troops escorting vehicle-drawn artillery launchers were spotted along the Marigat-Chemolingot road at Emining centre in Baringo County heading to various troubled areas in the region
- Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Sunday ordered residents of areas declared as crime scenes to vacate, within 24 hours
- Air movement in the regions, apart from those aircraft taking operation, was also banned
- In Baringo, the scenes of crime are Korkoron Hills, Tandare Valley, and Silale Gorges
The government has unleashed military-grade firepower as the operation to flush out bandits entered critical phase in 27 hotspot areas declared by Interior CS Prof Kithure Kindiki as crime scenes.
The government has deployed heavier artillery to the troubled six counties in the Kenyan North, as it steps up efforts to stem the escalating insecurity in the region. Last evening, an artillery of mortar launchers was spotted in Baringo County.
In the latest move to neutralise marauding bandits who are sieging the six counties of Baringo, Samburu, Laikipia, Turkana, West Pokot, and Elgeyo Marakwet, the government has deployed vehicle-drawn artillery launchers as well as additional Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers to the region.
On Monday, troops escorting the arsenal were spotted along the Marigat-Chemolingot road at Emining centre in Baringo County heading to various troubled areas in the region.
In a statement on Sunday, March 12, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki ordered residents of the areas declared as crime scenes to vacate, within 24 hours, the troubled specific areas believed to be hideouts for bandits.
The CS said whoever will be found in the said areas would be treated as a criminal or accomplice by the security agencies.
The areas now classified as scenes of crime are Korkoron Hills, Tandare Valley, and Silale Gorges in Baringo County, Mugokodo Forest; Kamwenje, Warero, and Ndonyoriwo; Lekuruki Hills, Losos, and Kiape Caves and Sieku Valley in Laikipia County.
Others are Ltungai Conservancy, Longewan, Nasuur, Lochokia, and Lekadaar Escarpments; Lolmolok Caves, Pura Valley, Malaso Escarpment, and Suguta Valley in Samburu County in, Malaso, Samburu County.
In Turkana County, Prof Kindiki said Kapelbok, Nakwamoru, Lebokat, Ombollion, Nadome and Kamur caves in Turkana County; the Turkwell Escarpment at the interface of West Pokot and Turkana Counties.
“The above-specified spaces are hereby declared scenes of crime and any person found therein from Monday, March 13 0830 hours will be treated as a suspect of armed banditry, or as a suspect of aiding and abetting banditry, or an accessory after the fact. Everyone must get out,” said the CS.
Want to see action
However, locals on the fringes of the mentioned areas said despite the tough talk by the government, they have not witnessed any action that confirms that the government was escalating the insecurity menace.
At Arabal, one of the troubled areas in Baringo South, locals accused the government of paying them lip service as bandits continue to rampage the area.
“We were elated when the CS announced phase two of the operation. But up to now, there is no flushing out of the bandits from their hideouts. What we are witnessing are the bandits descending from the hills, coming out to terrorise us and retreating to the bushes near our villages,” lamented Ms Rael Chebon, a local.
She said there was tension in the region and asked the government to swiftly act on their statements.
“Even our children go to school but cannot concentrate since the bandits are lurking in the bushes. We are afraid the schools might be closed again if the situation deteriorates further,” she said.
Fredrick Kulei from Kasiela village said the bandits were now hiding in villages the locals had fled initially.
“Aerial bombardments should commence immediately since the bandits are moving out of the hills. We need action because our lives are in disarray because of the bandits,” he said.
The operation will disrupt learning in the region as schools such as Kasiela, Chemoriongion, Sinoni, Kapindasum, and Arabal, among others are on the foothills of Korkoron and Tandar hills, which have been declared crime scenes.
“The government should have informed us not to allow the pupils and teachers to attend school since learning will be disrupted by the operation,” he said, questioning arrangements in place for the learners.