Bandit attacks escalate on Turkana-Pokot border after regional boss Maalim Mohammed ’s visit

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohammed (in front ) with West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello (Left) and other deputy county commissioners outside Mtelo Hall in Kapenguria, West Pokot County on May 17, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

Bandit attacks on the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties have escalated since Rift Valley Commissioner Maalim Mohammed toured the area to assess the security situation last week.

The latest incident occurred on Sunday morning when bandits raided villages near Kainuk Health Centre and drove away an unknown number of livestock.

The bandits also attacked residents at a livestock vaccination drive at Lokwamosing in Turkana East sub-county on Saturday, killing a herder and injuring a 13-year-old girl.

Locals said villages on the Turkana-West Pokot and Turkana-Baringo borders have been targeted in the new wave of attacks.

Maendeleo ya Wanawake Turkana South sub-county chairperson Margaret Arot said that the bandits brazenly opened cowsheds at around 7am and drove away animals.

"The owners of the livestock did not resist and that is why no bullet was fired. The livestock were driven towards Seramach village in West Pokot," Ms Arot said.

She said no single day passes without an attack happening. On Saturday, during a peace walk at Kainuk, an elderly man was injured and all his livestock stolen in another attack.

To tackle the problem, Ms Arot said, the government should start by getting rid of all Pokot kraals in South Turkana National Reserve and mopping up all firearms.

“With all the firearms, there is no way we can talk of peaceful coexistence until a coordinated disarmament exercise is conducted,” Ms Arot said.

During his visit last Monday, Mr Mohammed warned that stern action would be taken against armed civilians if they didn’t surrender their illegal arms in 30 days.

He also ordered herders in the national reserve to go back to their villages, after intelligence reports linked them to highway bandit attacks on the Kapenguria-Lokichar road and livestock thefts in border areas.

To beef up security, he said, sections of the border would be guarded by the General Service Unit, Rapid Deployment Unit, Anti Stock Theft Unit and police officers from the Kainuk Police Station.

Turkana South parliamentary seat aspirant Philip Aemun said illegal firearms and bandit escape routes in conservation areas leads to poaching and mass migration of wildlife.

Mr Aemun said that the South Turkana National Reserve has large populations of wildlife including elephants, gazelles, dik-diks and baboons, but bullet sounds scare them away.

"Insecurity has contributed to migration of wildlife away from most rangelands in Turkana. Improving security across the county will ensure better management of wildlife resources in protected areas, and further build Turkana's potential as a tourist destination," he said.

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