Bandits ambush police officers, mango farmers on Kerio Valley farms

Police officers escort mango farmers across the Chesogon River.

Photo credit: Picture | Pool

Mango farmers and police officers escaped death by a whisker on Monday when they were shot at by armed bandits in Chesegon in a Monday afternoon ambush.

No one was injured in the incident, with the attackers suspected to be from Marakwet East sub-county.

The attack happened just a day after police in Marakwet East arrested a man and his son and seized an assortment of weapons, including 76 rounds of ammunition and a banned industrial chemical in connection with violence in the Kerio Valley.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said police were treating the two suspects as suppliers of arms to bandits in the region.

In the Monday incident, police at the station in Chesegon on the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot were called in for reinforcement after the heavily armed bandits overpowered the officers.

The officers had escorted a group of mango farmers from West Pokot to harvest fruits on their farms when they were ambushed and shot at.

Some of the mango farmers after harvesting their fruit.

Photo credit: Picture | Pool

Mr Mohamed said the farmers, under the watchful eye of the security officers, had successfully harvested the fruits but were attacked as soon as they were about to leave the farms.

“The bandits crossed the border and launched a vicious attack, firing at the officers [and] the farmers. They were determined to kill them, but the officers sent a distress call to their colleagues at the Chesegon Police Station who swiftly responded and came to their rescue,” he told the Nation on Tuesday.

He said the security team engaged the bandits in a shootout and overpowered them, before the attackers fled to Kaben in Marakwet East. “The farmers completed the harvesting and transported their fruits successfully accompanied by a reinforced team of officers,” he said.

Mr Mohamed said the attack illustrated that there are many illegal weapons in the hands of civilians, warning that the government would confiscate them.

“With the ongoing security operation and a massive disarmament operation in the region, our officers are recovering guns and ammunition on a daily basis. We will flush out all the criminals, including those who have fled to the expansive Embobut forest,” he said.

On June 8, the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in parts of Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot counties for 30 days, a move Mr Mohamed said was bearing fruit in the effort to restore calm in the volatile region.

“The curfew has allowed the security team to mount the operation against banditry and deadly conflicts in the area. Anyone found loitering around without a valid reason during the curfew time will be arrested and charged in court,” he said, adding that they had arrested over 100 people, a majority of them bandits.

In the Sunday operation, police arrested a man and his 17-year-old son and seized an assortment of weapons, including 76 rounds of ammunition and a banned industrial chemical. 

Mr Mohamed said the two suspects had been on police radar in connection with insecurity in the Kerio Valley.

“The duo is among a group of 350 people we have profiled in connection with the ongoing skirmishes in the Kerio Valley belt. We are also determined to mop up all illegal arms the profiled individuals have,” said Mr Mohamed.

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