Expectant teacher gang-raped as bandits unleash terror in Turkana

Kainuk bandits

Security officers from Anti Stock Theft Unit based at Kainuk town along the border of Turkana and West Pokot Counties leave their station to pursue bandits during a past operation.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

An expectant teacher at a school along the border of Turkana and West Pokot Counties was Sunday night gang-raped by armed bandits who are currently unleashing terror on residents and security officers in Kainuk.

The school head teacher reported the matter at Kainuk Police Station on Monday.

The teacher was raped by four bandits who threatened to kill anyone who would resist their mission, according to the head teacher.

"The teacher was to begin her maternity leave next month. The remaining five teachers at the school have threatened to resign as their lives are at great risk. Pupils have not reported to school today," the school head said at the station.

The teacher is currently at a hospital in the region.

At Kainuk FPFK Philadelphia Primary School, just next to the Anti Stock Theft Unit camp, learning have also been interrupted.

"Grade Six which is supposed to have a total of 30 pupils only had six boys on Monday. Parents had withdrawn most of their children from the school whose population is supposed to be 528. The enrolment is going down every day due to worsening insecurity situation," Ms Ruth Esekon, the school head teacher said.

She said teachers, most of whom are non-locals, are fearing for their lives as the school compound has frequently been an escape route for the bandits whenever they steal livestock or are overpowered by security officers.

In the Junior Secondary School class, there are only three learners out of a total of 19 students who are expected to report.

A spot check around the town revealed fewer activities due to mounting tension. There is a low traffic, closed shops with women and children keeping off their farms.

"We can't go to our farms as the bandits are still on a mission to kill more residents and police officers. Those with shops and offering hotel and accommodation services have no customers because few vehicles that are successfully seen in the town proceed without stopping," Ms Shirleen Akolong said.

Security patrols have been enhanced, with officers in Armoured Personnel Carriers seen between Kainuk- Kaakong stretch after the bandits were sighted in the South Turkana National Reserve. A drone is also hovering over Kainuk town.

Kainuk Senior Chief Sarah Lochodo said that other schools where learning has been interrupted include Agape and Kainuk Girls Primary.

"The bandits are armed with sophisticated weapons and are well versed with the terrain. However, enhanced security operations through support of APCs, the security situation will improve," Ms Lochodo said.

Security operation

She said that the bandits are not only coming from West Pokot County, but others are also from Tiaty Constituency in Baringo County after they ran away from a security operation 

"Last year in April, they came as herders to graze in a gazetted national reserve. But on February 8, 2023, there were sustained attacks on road users. We even met them at Kaakong and urged them to stop attacking motorists but they still attacked a public service vehicle killing a male passenger," the local administrator said.

Sustained attacks saw the bandits kill four police officers last Friday last week, injuring seven others and torching four vehicles near the KWS hotspot- a signal that it is no longer cattle rustling.

Kainuk/Lobokat MCA Samwel Aliwo said that few security officers in the area have always been overpowered by organized and well-funded bandits from neighboring West Pokot and Baringo Counties.

Mr Aliwo who doubles up as chairperson of the county assembly security committee said that security response must be enhanced through aerial support insisting that the bandits were now acting as terrorists.

"The bandits are well equipped with sophisticated weapons. Security officers are not well versed with the terrain despite their dedicated efforts to battle with the bandits. We need urgent recruitment and deployment of National Police Reservists who understand the terrain," he said.

Turkana Senator James Lomenen said that the bandits were not only targeting herders from the Turkana community, but they were now attacking motorists along the Kitale - Lodwar road, an international trunk linking Kenya and neighboring Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

Mr Lomenen called for urgent humanitarian aid for residents of Kainuk and neighboring centers that include Kaakong, Kalemngorok, Kaputir, and Lokwar.

"The political season is over and therefore the State should handle the organized terrorist in North Rift with full force. National police reservists should also be recruited to complement the efforts of various police units," the Senator said.

Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai reiterated that bandits should be classified as terrorists and dealt with the same way Alshabaab is handled.

Kainuk residents called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to visit the area and order a well-coordinated security operation to flush out the bandits as well as roll out a disarmament exercise.