Tension has gripped the border of Baringo and Turkana counties after armed bandits shot dead a woman and her daughter and made away with over 300 goats.
The region has seen renewed attacks despite a campaign to curb armed conflicts that have claimed several lives and displaced hundreds of families from their homes.
In the latest attack, the bandits, suspected to be from Turkana East, shot dead the two on Wednesday evening as the victims drove their animals to the Suguta River in Tiaty sub-county, said Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Maalim Mohamed.
“The raiders escaped towards Lomelo in Turkana East, but a multiagency security team [was pursuing] the criminals [to] recover the stolen animals,” Mr Mohamed said.
He said 90 National Police Reservists (NPR) had been deployed to Turkana East to complement security agencies to track down the bandits and contain armed conflicts among pastoralists.
“We will round up any krall that is a beneficiary of stolen animals, round up all the animals and compensate victims of cattle raids,” he warned.
He cautioned NPRs against taking sides in cattle raids, noting that they are expected to create a buffer zone and contain attacks and support security agents to recover stolen animals.
“Tough action will be taken against anybody who intimidates the security team involved in the hunt for the criminals and restore law and order in insecurity-hit areas,” Mr Mohamed said.
He cautioned the Pokot against staging retaliatory attacks and to allow security agents to pursue the criminals.
“Our intelligence report indicates that the Pokot are planning revenge attacks, but I ask them to remain calm as our officers pursue the attackers and deal with any act of lawlessness,” he added.
Some 22 police officers and three civilians were killed in an ambush by armed bandits near Kapedo, on the border between Baringo and Turkana counties, seven years ago.
The General Service Unit (GSU) officers were heading to Kapedo when bandits ambushed them in Kasarani, on the Kapedo-Lokori road, in Turkana East constituency.
Last year, two police officers – an inspector of police and his driver –were shot dead by bandits in Kapedo, where a security operation was underway to disarm the criminals.
Peace efforts by the government and other stakeholders were dealt a blow at the weekend when armed raiders, suspected to be from Tiaty in Baringo, attacked Katilia ward in Turkana East and made away with an unknown number of animals.
The government has launched several failed operations in the region and will embark on another one following the killings of eight police officers, a chief and two civilians.
But the rough terrain has proved the main challenge to security agents as criminals take cover in caves in Silale, Nadome, Suguta Marmar and the Tiaty hills.
Locals say NPRs who know the terrain would do better but have not been deployed, with only military and GSU camps set up to respond to attacks.
“Unlike in other areas where locals are recruited as NPRs to back up the national security team, there is no such arrangement in Kapedo to guide the military and GSU officers on paths used by bandits and manoeuvre the rough terrain, exposing them to great danger,” said resident Brian Chetotum.
Some bandits who stage daring attacks in Kapedo escape through the notorious Lokwachula “corridor” towards West Pokot County and end up in Uganda, where they take refuge among their cousins and return only after the government suspends its disarmament operations.
The Pokot live in Kenya and Uganda and move freely across the border in search of pasture and water for their livestock.
The pursuit of peace among warring pastoralists in the North Rift region is taking a new approach as the government turns to elders to recover stolen animals and weapons as a way of promoting harmonious coexistence.
Administrators and elders from the Pokot and Turkana communities are involved in a series of peace talks aimed at preventing cattle raids and bandit attacks.