Tension high after bandits kill herder, steal animals in Baringo South

Security officers at the Tiaty Sub-County commissioner's office in Chemolingot display seven AK-47 guns surrendered by bandits in  Kapau, Loiwat and Kipnai on March 10, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Residents are now fearful that criminals are hiding in bushes and planning to steal from herders who have moved to the region in search of pasture.

Tension is high in Baringo South’s insecurity-prone Arabal area after a herder was shot dead by armed criminals who stole 38 cattle.

In the incident at 3.40pm on Thursday, hundreds of herders were grazing livestock in pasture-rich Embosos in Arabal when they were ambushed by an unknown number of bandits.

Baringo South Sub-County Police Commander Benjoliffe Munuve said the victim was a man in his early 30’s, identified only as Kamau, and he was from Mau Narok.

Kamau died at the scene of the ambush, Mr Munuve said, adding the bandits drove the livestock towards Karau hill and Chepkalacha in the neighbouring Tiaty East Sub-County.

He told the Nation that before the criminals ambushed the herders, they attacked a camp manning Arabal Primary School.

“We cannot tell where the bandits come from because several communities including Samburu, Pokot, Ilchamus and Turkana from Baringo and the neighbouring Laikipia County have invaded the pasture--rich area with thousands of livestock.”

Mr Munuve said security officers were deployed to recover the stolen livestock and find the attackers.

“No recovery has been made so far but our officers are in hot pursuit of the armed criminals. We are appealing to the locals to remain calm because patrols have been intensified in efforts to restore normalcy and smoke out the few individuals wreaking havoc,” he said.

Residents afraid

Residents are now fearful that criminals are hiding in bushes and planning to steal from herders who have moved to the region in search of pasture.

Paul Kipyemat said they cannot go on with their daily chores for fear of being ambushed by people roaming freely in  deserted villages.

“Women and children have fled to seek refuge in safer places while the men who remained behind to man villages have been forced to sleep in bushes for fear of being ambushed at night. We no longer farm or engage in any other meaningful activities because the armed criminals may ambush and kill us,” said Mr Kipyemat.

He said the situation worsened after police reservists in the region, who were familiar with the terrain, were disarmed in what the government called registration of firearms.

“We have been left at the mercy of armed bandits from the neighbouring community, who rob us of our livestock and property whenever they feel like it,” he said.

He appealed to the government to carry out disarmament so as to get rid of illegal weapons.

Disarmament pending

Mochongoi Ward Representative Kipruto Kimosop said bandits are roaming the villages armed with sophisticated firearms, with locals susceptible to attacks after the disarming of reservists.

“IInterior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, what happened to the rigorous disarmament exercise you announced would be carried out? It looks like there was another plan to disarm innocent communities and leave them in the hands of armed bandits,” said Mr Kimosop.

He said the government should have come up with proper mechanisms to seal loopholes that have resulted in increased bandit attacks before taking guns from police reservists.

The attack happened barely a week after CS Matiang’i gave hundreds of herders from Isiolo, Samburu and Baringo, who have invaded private ranches in Laikipia County, seven days to leave or face forceful expulsion by security officers.

He warned that if they do not heed the directive, the government will launch a massive operation to flush them out.

Locals in Laikipia had raised concerns that headers have taken over their farms and are the major cause of insecurity, deaths and loss of property.

Residents of Baringo fear the herders have invaded Baringo South could spark intercommunity fights in a scramble for limited resources including water and pasture.

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