For lasting peace, silence Baragoi guns, leaders say

Families fleeing Simiti Village in Baragoi, Samburu County, in 2013 following a spate of killings and banditry in the region.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga blamed the proliferation of illegal firearms in Samburu North for increased insecurity
  • Mr Lentoimaga urged the government to involve local leaders in the disarmament exercise.

Leaders have called for forceful disarmament in Baragoi to stem the rising tide of violence that has claimed the lives of six people in the area. 

Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga blamed the proliferation of illegal firearms in Samburu North for increased insecurity, which has, in turn, led to decreased investments and a rise in poverty levels.

“Samburu North is as productive as any other part of the country, but people are avoiding it because of insecurity,” MP said. He blamed security agencies for not taking action to combat banditry in Baragoi.

Mr Lentoimaga urged the government to involve local leaders in the disarmament exercise.

No longer in control

“Baragoi is crime-infested and even the police are no longer in control. They are also often attacked and killed,” he said.

County Woman Rep Maison Leshoomo accused the Interior ministry of laxity, saying, it had failed to rein in illegal firearms. Reached for comment, County Commissioner John Korir said normalcy in the region had been disrupted following hostilities in the past few weeks, but added that a contingent of police officers has been deployed to calm the situation.

He said security had been beefed up in areas prone to cattle rustling in Samburu North and Samburu East sub-counties.

“We’re trying to neutralise banditry in Baragoi. In recent days, we’ve conducted a series of peace meetings and we’re still [trying] to reach more people,” Mr Korir said.

The presence of illegal firearms — and especially sophisticated assault rifles — in Samburu North, he said, was to blame for the fragile peace, as they exacerbated conflicts.

Mr Korir added that disarmament was the only lasting solution to cattle rustling. “There are a lot of illegal guns in the hands of civilians. This must be remedied.”

Coexist peacefully

He told the rival communities to learn to coexist peacefully.

“We must learn to coexist. If it is an issue of pasture, the communities must learn to talk to each other and ask for permission to graze in grasslands that fall in their neighbours’ territory. This should be done for all resources to avoid conflict,” he said.

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