Rough terrain slows down security efforts in North Rift
Several counties in the North Rift region continue to experience cases of armed conflict despite repeated operations by the government to recover guns and flush out bandits.
Thousands of guns and several rounds of ammunition are being used by criminal gangs to commit retaliatory attacks in Kerio Valley as tensions between warring pastoral communities heighten.
“What is happening is that the armed criminals are acquiring more sophisticated weapons and the attacks are no longer about cattle raids or banditry activities, they are now targeting businesses and looting property,” said Jackson Kemboi from Chesegon, Marakwet East Sub-county.
The Kerio Valley region is occupied by the Pokot, Turkana, Marakwet, Tugen, Illchamus and Samburu communities who are entangled in prolonged armed conflict.
The government has launched several failed operations in the region in the past but the bandits have remained defiant, launching several attacks in parts of West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. In the last week, the attacks have resulted in the killing of six people and the stealing of an unknown number of animals.
But the rough geographical terrain has proved the main challenge to the multi-agency security team involved in the crackdown against the criminals who take cover in caves in Silale, Nadome, Suguta Marmar and Tiaty hills.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki visited the volatile region early this year following the killing of two siblings by bandits and ordered police officers to use their guns to protect themselves and locals from marauding bandits.
“Law enforcers should use the firearms they have at their disposal to guard themselves and those they protect. Guns in police possessions should be used for the purposes they are intended for and as the government we are ready to defend them as they perform their duties,” said Prof Kindiki in Chesongoch.
In the latest incident, armed raiders suspected to be from West Pokot raided a village in Chesongoch in Marakwet East on Tuesday and killed three people in what is believed to be a retaliatory attack.
The raiders attacked Akiriamet village in Chesegon last Wednesday and shot dead Korir Korpatagh,27, and injured Dennis Terer, aged 34, and made away with more than 30 goats.
The bandits also killed a lorry driver, Cheruiyot Kibet, an employee of China highway construction company who was working on the road network in the area.
Pokot Central Sub-County Police commandant Nelson Omwenga said police are pursuing the killers.
Leaders from the region have petitioned the government to act tough against the attackers and help restore law and order in the area.
“Insecurity has become a very thorny issue in Kerio Valley and the entire North Rift. We want Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure to take full charge,” Marakwet East MP David Bowen said. Baringo Woman Rep Florence Jematia demanded compensation for banditry victims.