Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mohammed Maalim has issued a shoot-to-kill order as the government steps up the hunt for bandits terrorising residents of the troubled North Rift region.
While on tour of Baringo South on Tuesday, he said the government has deployed more than 80 police reservists in Baringo North and Baringo South sub-counties to supplement security officers already stationed in the region. He directed the officers to produce culprits either dead or alive.
“We have re-deployed those who are conversant with the rugged terrain...We want to see changes in the war-torn areas and we want to see the bandits, dead or alive," said Mr Maalim.
The 80 officers have been dispatched to the infamous Korkoron Hills where bandits are said to be hiding and plotting their killing sprees.
After holding a meeting with the county security team in the morning, Mr Maalim toured the deserted villages in Kasiela, Sinoni and Lamaiywe to assess the security situation. Thousands of people fled the border villages due to incessant attacks, with some being rendered uninhabitable since the beginning of the year. They include Kitorongon, Menmeno, Seretion, Chepng'anian, Kapsikwon, Lomulel and Korkoron, Kapkechir, Tuiyotich and Korkoron.
The most recent exodus happened on Friday and Saturday after the killing of five people at Riverside and Sinoni villages, bringing the number of locals shot dead by bandits to 20 since January.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that all houses were completely empty save for some household items left behind after occupants left in a hurry.
Riverside, Kasiela, Center Moja and Sinoni shopping centres were also desolate, with some of the shops seemingly vandalised by attackers.
Locals say bandits are usually spotted herding their animals atop surrounding hills, then are seen descending to adjacent villages -- stealing livestock and killing people at will.
This was the second visit to the region by the regional administrator in a week after his tour of the insecurity-prone Loruk area last Wednesday. Mr Maalim, who visited Mochongoi -- the latest area to be attacked by bandits -- said the police reservists have been trained to flush out the gun-wielding bandits.
"In the past, some criminals were killed in a raid and it was discovered that those who died in the attack were five police reservists engaging in banditry. We have thoroughly vetted the new recruits and we believe they will carry out their mandate," Mr Maalim said.
His visit came amid tensions in Kapkosom village in Baringo South after armed criminals struck on Monday. The attack happened a few kilometres from a KCPE examination centre, forcing locals to flee.