One killed, two injured as bandits attack village in Baringo

Locals fleeing Sinoni Village in Baringo South

Locals fleeing from the troubled Sinoni Village in Baringo South to other safer villages due to flare-ups that led to the killing of more than four people in the area on March 4 and 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

One person was killed while two others sustained gunshot injuries in a fresh banditry attack in the troubled Sinoni village of Baringo South.

The latest killing brings to seven the number of people who have died in banditry attacks in the region in the last two days and to 20 the number of people killed in the volatile Baringo since the beginning of the year.

Following the attacks, more than 20 schools in the region have closed.

The flare-ups come at a time when thousands of candidates are preparing to sit for their national examinations, amid concerns from parents on the safety of their children.

The Saturday noon attack happened in Duka Moja, approximately two kilometres from where County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa, Baringo South MP Charles Kamuren and other local leaders held a peace forum to quell the heightened tension.

The incident happened in the same area where two other people, a milk vendor who was riding a motorcycle with his pillion passenger, were ambushed and shot dead on Friday evening by armed attackers suspected to be from the neighbouring Tiaty Sub-County.

After the Friday attack, the county commissioner and the county security team toured the area to assess the situation.

Another attack

While they were holding the peace meeting with Sinoni residents, they were informed of another attack which had been staged a few kilometres from the venue.

Women carrying their children fled to the safer Kabel and Mochongoi areas, fearing more attacks from the bandits who were still roaming the villages freely.

According to locals, in the Saturday attack, the three elderly men were shot at close range by bandits while fleeing from the area following the previous evening’s attacks.

Baringo South Sub-County Police Commander David Too said two of the old men managed to escape, while Wilson Chirchir, 60, died on the spot after he was shot in the head at close range.

Attackers vanish

“After the attack, they vanished into the bushes without stealing anything. Police who were carrying out patrols in the area responded and managed to repulse the attackers,” he said.

“The two injured persons were treated at Kabel Health Centre while the body of the deceased was moved to Nyahururu Hospital mortuary in the neighbouring Laikipia County.

Some of the affected locals who had camped at Sinoni Primary School after a previous attack that left two brothers in the same area dead were forced to flee again.

KCPE candidates moved

The school was serving as an exam centre for more than 40 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates from Sinoni and Kasiela primary schools.

But due to the fresh attacks, the candidates have been moved to Mochongoi Secondary School, more than 20km away where they will sit their tests from Monday.

During the county commissioner’s tour, irate locals in Kabel and Mochongoi areas staged a protest and blocked Kabel-Marigat road and Karandi-Marigat road accusing the government of doing little to flush out the armed criminals wreaking havoc.

A humanitarian crisis is looming in the area as displaced locals who fled without taking their belongings are in dire need of food aid and other basic necessities.

The attacks have also put the Interior Ministry on the spot, with locals wondering why a security operation ordered by the Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i a month ago to smoke out the criminals had not been carried out despite the incessant killings and livestock theft in the region.

They happened barely a week after Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Mohammed Maalim convened a peace forum on Tuesday in Loruk in Baringo North to address the insecurity situation in the region.

On Sunday, Kasitet Cherono, a resident of Sinoni in Baringo South said almost all the three locations in Mochongoi Ward had been deserted after thousands of locals were displaced from their homes.

“We are wondering why we are being killed amid the presence of several police camps in the area? Something is not adding up because the same government that is supposed to protect us and our property has left us on our own,” he said.

During the Tuesday peace forum in Baringo North, local leaders and residents accused the government of doing little to end the perennial insecurity that has claimed hundreds of lives and thousands of others displaced from their homes for years.

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo wondered why a security operation ordered a month ago was yet to start even as killings continue.

“We have held countless dialogues for years and they have borne no fruit. The government has the machinery to end this perennial menace but we are tempted to be believe that they are not committed at all,” Mr Cheptumo said.

“During a forum with the Interior CS a week ago, a security operation to flush out the bandits was ordered, but sadly, the attackers are still roaming the villages freely, killing people at will. We are demanding that President Uhuru Kenyatta tours Baringo to assess the situation for himself because things are worsening by the day. How many people should we bury for the government to act?” he asked.

Seize illegal guns

During his meeting in the region last week, the regional commissioner announced that a forceful disarmament will be rolled out in the insecurity prone counties in the North Rift region to seize thousands of illegal guns in the hands of civilians.

In a bid to restore normalcy in the border areas, he indicated that more than 80 National Police Reservists (NPRs) have been vetted and will soon be enlisted to supplement officers deployed to beef up security after undergoing the relevant training.

He said suspected criminals from the warring communities have been profiled, including the villages where they come from and they will be arrested to face the law.

Dr Matiang’i, during an event at the Kenya School of Government (KSG) Kabete two weeks ago, indicated that he will seek approval from the National Security Council to outlaw the bandits and declare them a terror group.