Peace efforts down the drain as fresh attacks stalk Kapedo

Kapedo peace meeting

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembey with Governors Josphat Nanok (Turkana) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Baringo county Governor Stanley Kiptis and other leaders during a peace meeting in Kapedo on November 15, 2020.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

The fresh wave of attacks among warring pastoralist communities in the North Rift region spells doom for peace efforts by local leaders and government agencies.

Tension has gripped Turkana and Baringo counties after suspected  Pokot bandits from Tiaty Sub-County attacked a village in Kapedo and shot dead a 78-year-old man named Ekai Yapan.

Several other people have been injured in the renewed attacks, hundreds of families displaced and learning disrupted.

According to resident Chrispus Ekaale, tension was high as more than 40 suspected Pokot bandits armed with AK-47 rifles carried out the attack.

"Locals remain indoors, fearing for their lives," he said, adding that at least three people were wounded.

Severe damage

The incident, at about 4.40pm on Monday, forced the closure of Kapedo Mixed Secondary School on the border of the two counties.

“We had to evacuate the day students after getting wind of the impending attack,” said Turkana East Sub-County Police Commander Edwin Ogwiri.

The attackers also destroyed a monument by the Catholic Church as well as a Full Gospel Church, which is 200 meters away from the GSU camp.

Mr Ogwiri said they also torched several grass-thatched houses.

“They were burning grass while shooting from different directions,” he said, adding that there was a heavy exchange of fire between them as they sought to end the destruction.

"Some bandits were successfully repulsed towards Silale while others went into hiding.”

Kapedo/Napeitom Ward Representative Willy Nalimo called on Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya to order a disarmament process in Tiaty, where he claimed the most notorious bandits are found.

The MCA blamed unnamed politicians from neighbouring communities for the attack.

"At least 14 houses were burnt. A guest house next to a garage and another one near the river were vandalised. I urge security forces to deal with any armed civilians in Kapedo,” he said.

He also urged Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok and other leaders from the county to unite and end the frequent attacks.

Security tightened

Mr Ogwiri said additional security personnel were deployed to restore calm and work with community leaders in a crackdown on criminals.

“A joint security team comprising Kenya Defence Forces, the General Service Unit, the Rapid Deployment Unit, regular and administration police and the National Police Reserve has been dispatched to repulse the bandits,” he said.

Since November 14, 2020, when Mr Natembeya and North Rift Governors led by Uasin Gishu’s Jackson Mandago and Turkana’s Josephat Nanok officiated at a peace meeting at Kapedo centre, at least five attacks have taken place.

The first incident occurred a day after the meeting when armed bandits ambushed herders at the Kapedo grazing fields and stole goats.

Four days later, assailants shot dead a Form One student who was part of a group fetching firewood near the venue of the peace meeting.

Turkana Senator Malachy Ekal and Turkana East MP Mohammed Lokiru urged Mr Natembeya to make use of intelligence and arrest anyone opposed to the peace-building process.

Mr Lokiru said leaders from Turkana have openly expressed their commitment to peace after recently meeting all concerned parties in the county.

They agreed to hold regular peace meetings between Kraal elders and professionals from both Turkana and Baringo counties as part of efforts to end the animosity.

Additional reporting by Stanley Kimuge

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