Chief among three injured in Kitale-Lodwar road bandit attack

Some of the spent cartridges recovered at a battlefield field on the banks of River Malimalite near Kainuk bridge along the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties a week ago.

Photo credit: File

Tension is high along the Kitale-Kapenguria-Lodwar road following a Sunday evening attack by bandits in which an assistant chief and two other people were injured.

The three were on a motorcycle headed for Kainuk, on the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties, when the bandits ambushed them in the Kenya Wildlife Service area, which is a hotspot for such attacks, police said.

Bandits injured a police officer in the same area last Friday in a fierce shootout.

Turkana South sub-county Police Commander Robert Kibuchi said Kaakong Assistant Chief Patrick Longiti Achila, 33, was shot in his left upper arm in the incident that occurred at around 5.30pm.

"The rider, Ebenyo Angataikale, was seriously injured in the right eye, right knee and thigh and has a hole in the right eye. John Emase suffered bruises after falling from the motorbike," the police boss said.

The three were rushed to Kainuk Health Centre.

On Friday, a police officer was shot in one leg in a fierce fire exchange with bandits. He and his colleagues from the Kalemngorok Police Station were on routine patrol between Kalemngorok and Kainuk when they encountered the assailants. 

Unspecified number of casualties

Mr Kibichi said the shootout left an unspecified number of casualties among the bandits.

Trucks from Kitale entering Turkana through Kainuk Cess Point. There has been mounting tension, especially at a section between Marich Pass (West Pokot) and Lokichar (Turkana) due to incessant bandit attacks targeting motorists at KWS hotspot area.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

A wave of bandit attacks has hit border villages in West Pokot and Turkana counties. Nation.Africa recently counted three bodies at a battlefield on the banks of the River Malimalite.

Turkana leaders have condemned the attacks, with Turkana South MP James Lomenen, his Loima counterpart Jeremiah Lomorukai and woman representative aspirant Leah Lokala saying this signalled that there were many illegal firearms in the hands of civilians.

Mr Lomenen said leaders from both communities had committed to preaching peace in February at a meeting held in Marich village.

But attacks continue, and they have escalated since March, when bandits targeted a public service vehicle carrying a Colombian woman missionary based at the Nariokotome Mission in Turkana North sub –county.

The driver was shot and injured at exactly the same spot where the assistant chief and the police officer encountered bandits, Mr Lomenen said.

He called on the government to search for illegal arms in villages and kraals known to be safe havens for bandits, especially Amolem, Lotongot and Nawoiyatira (Aroo).

"The kraals that are within the Turkana National Reserve should be relocated because that is where highway bandits terrorising motorists at the KWS area reside. The bandits are also threatening the elephant, rhino and dikdik populations as they feed on them," the legislator said.

Leaders say bandits have targeted Kainuk, Lorogon and Nakwamoru villages at will because locals and police reservists were disarmed.

Ms Lokala said residents in border areas need to be disarmed instead of security agencies only reacting when bandit attacks occur. 

"As leaders, we advocate for a border where no civilian is armed but their property and life are protected so that learning, farming, transport activities are not interrupted by gunshots or killings," she said.

She noted that banditry fuelled by illegal firearms makes border residents poor and vulnerable.

Mr Lomorukai appealed to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to ignore politicians interfering with disarmament operations, saying they were seeking to remain politically relevant.

"A security operation whose main objective is to ensure lives and property at the border are protected should be rolled out immediately devoid of political interference. If it is a disarmament process let it be once and for all," he said.