Samburu, Laikipia targeted in major gun mop-up drive

Security officers

Security officers patrol the area where 14 people were shot dead by bandits in Suyian, Samburu County, on November 4, 2021.

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Government warns that security agencies will forcefully seize illegal guns and arrest bandits.
  • Two KDF soldiers and two GSU officers were killed by bandits in Laikipia on Wednesday.

We’re coming for you! That’s the message the government is sending gunmen in banditry hotspots of Samburu and Laikipia counties as a major offensive targeting a stockpile of illegal firearms in the region looms.

The Nation has established that an extensive forceful disarmament exercise is on the cards following the recent killings of two policemen and two soldiers at a nature conservancy in Laikipia.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya yesterday said security agencies would forcefully seize illegal guns and arrest criminals wielding them.

“The government is considering a major disarmament in the insecurity prone areas of Samburu and Laikipia to seize all illegal guns in the hands of civilians. We’re also intensifying the security operation in Laikipia and, this time, we’ll hit hard. The criminals will not have any place to hide,” he told the Nation.

This comes hardly a day after bandits killed two Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers and two General Service Unit (GSU) officers in Laikipia on Wednesday. The two GSU officers were shot dead at Ngerecha in Kamwenje village, Laikipia West Sub-county.

Disarmament exercise

Sources said the KDF soldiers were shot while digging a trench at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy (LNC) to deter bandits from moving stolen animals.

A disarmament exercise launched in January was on March 23 suspended to give negotiations a chance. This followed killings of more than 10 people in a week in Kapedo, Turkana East. 

The dead — believed to have been short dead by bandits from neighbouring Tiaty Sub-county — included senior police officers Superintendent Emadau Tebakol, Chief Inspector Moses Lekariab and a driver, Constable Benson Kaburu. 

Hundreds of security officers were deployed in Tiaty East, Tiaty West and Turkana East sub-counties to seize illegal guns, recover stolen livestock and arrest armed criminals. The mop-up targeted Ameyan, Paka, Silale, Nadome, Komolion, Kapau, Toplen, Chesitet, Nakoko, Riong’o, Akwichatis, Nasorot, Lomelo, Lokori and Kapedo.

Close to 80 guns were seized in Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia and Samburu counties. Not a single arrest was made, however.

Most affected areas

Laikipia and Samburu residents now claim thousands of illegal guns are still in the hands of civilians—villagers who want to protect their livestock and the bandits keen on stealing them. 

However, some security experts feel a disarmament won’t end cattle rustling and the banditry menace. Security analyst Kiyo Ng’ang’a says the solution lies in sealing the porous borders through which guns are smuggled into the country. In the past, the government has blamed politicians of being behind the proliferation of illegal firearms. 

In recent months, bandits from Samburu and Laikipia counties have killed at least 50 people, including security officers.

The most affected areas are Marti, Mbukoi, Baragoi, Nachola, Suyian, Kawap, Nkoriche and South Horr in Samburu North. In Samburu East are Wamba, Lerata and Archers Post.

Cattle thefts have also hit Suguta Mar Mar, Longewan and Malaso. In Laikipia, Ol Moran,Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Kamwenje and parts of Laikipia West are also affected.