Officials to probe how bandits get powerful weapons, training

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Mohamed Maalim at the regional office in Nakuru city on March 1, 2022. PHOTO/CHEBOITE KIGEN

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen

The government has started investigating the sources of weapons fuelling banditry and cattle rustling in troubled Rift Valley counties.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said officials want to know how bandits acquired the firepower that often overwhelms police officers pursuing them in Baringo, West Pokot, Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu counties.

“We are investigating the concerns that have been raised. Our officers have been engaged by these criminals time and again but the kind of sustained engagement with our well-trained and armed officers has raised eyebrows and the questions we are asking is, where do these criminals get this kind of firepower, armed training and ammunition?” he said.

Mr Mohamed, who spoke in Rumuruti, Laikipia County, when he met security heads from Laikipia West added: “We are going to conduct thorough investigations to get to the bottom of these issues.”

Last year, the government deployed a contingent of 500 police officers from various formations with armoured personnel carriers and two police choppers in Laikipia County following the killings of at least 20 people and the displacement of about 400 families from their homes in Ol Moran, Sossian and Githiga wards.

Locals say the bandits seem to carry more advanced weapons and use sophisticated strategies.

While maintaining that the security operation in the region continues, Mr Mohamed said that five firearms had been seized from the criminals in two months.

The weapons included two AK-47, two G3, and one M16 rifles. They were seized from criminals in Kirima and Laikipia West sub-counties and in the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

Meanwhile, Mr Mohamed directed the Laikipia County-based National Police Reservists (NPRs) to move out of camps and start living with members of the community they serve.

“The NPRs are supposed to be community-based and they are not supposed to be in camps. We have discussed as a team and we have made a resolution that they will now be community-based in areas of Ng’arua where the banditry menace from the Laikipia Nature Conservancy have been rampant,” he said.

He said the reservists will supplement security officers stationed in trouble spots.

“I am also calling on leaders from Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties to initiate peace-building activities and stabilise the ground,” he said. 

“Issues of insecurity … in the region can easily be tackled once and for all through engagements with local communities and government agencies.”

About 50 people have been killed and hundreds of animals stolen in the past five months in the vast region covering Laikipia, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo.

On Sunday, two people were shot dead by cattle rustlers in Koitilial, Arror ward. Seven other people from the nearby Kaplamak irrigation scheme were also injured in the attack. The assailants drove away 600 heads of cattle.