Survivors of Turkana East bandit attacks get Red Cross help

A section of women from Napeitom village who fled to Lokori town at Turkana East Sub County offices on August 3, 2022.

A section of women from Napeitom village who fled to Lokori town following the Sunday night arson attack that left seven people killed at Turkana East Sub County offices on August 3, 2022 waiting to receive donations from Kenya Red Cross Society.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Red Cross Society is helping residents of Turkana East affected by persistent bandit attacks.

On Tuesday evening, barely two days after seven people were killed in an arson attack on Sunday night, a herder was shot dead in Lokori town, where victims of the earlier attack in Napeitom village are taking refuge.

The Sunday night attack left two people nursing severe burns. The attackers were suspected to be bandits from neighbouring Baringo County.

It has emerged that 13 people have died since Sunday, among them five children.

Turkana East Deputy County Commissioner Saidi Safu Shaaban confirmed that the herder was shot dead on Tuesday evening while returning from grazing fields on the outskirts of Lokori.

"Police officers have intensified patrols in Lokori and all hotspot villages to weed out bandits," Mr Shaaban said.

Protesters wailing and chanting inside Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua's office over Naipetom village killings

Protesters wailing and chanting inside Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua's office over Naipetom village killings.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

Protests

On Tuesday, women and political leaders, led by Turkana Central MP John Lodepe, stormed the county commissioner's office protesting the Sunday night arson attack in Napeitom village.

It happened as villagers fled Napeitom to Lokori, about 35km away, leaving the village deserted.

It emerged that those burnt beyond recognition that night as they slept in their homes included four schoolchildren.

Emergency response

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) on Wednesday morning donated nonfood items to victims of the attacks as part of its emergency response efforts.

"Each of the targeted 100 beneficiaries will receive a blanket, sleeping mat, mosquito net, jerrican, kitchen sets and tarpaulin for making emergency shelter," KRCS official Rukia Abubakar said.

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) official Rukia Abubakar handing donations to Napeitom attack victims on Wednesday August 3, 2022

Turkana East Deputy County Commissioner Saidi Safu Shaaban and Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) official Rukia Abubakar on Wednesday August 3, 2022 handing over non food items to victims of Sunday's arson attack on Napeitom village who were forced to move to Lokori town for safety. Arrangements are on for temporary resettlement.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

The KRCS team of volunteers arrived in Napeitom village at 8am on Monday with security and county officials from Lokori and immediately embarked on distributing the items.

Ms Abubakar said they encountered 20 people, mostly women and children, who had fled to nearby dry riverbeds, where they spent the night in the cold.

"The incident has left villagers so traumatised and shivering in the cold,” she said, adding that they took to Lokori two severely burnt people and others they found along the way.

Religious leaders

Religious leaders in the county, led by Lodwar Catholic Bishop John Mbinda and Inter-Religious Council of Kenya official Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aremon, want the government to seize illegal guns in the hands of civilians as one way of ending attacks in Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties.

They said that before the herder was killed in Lokori on Tuesday evening, 13 innocent lives had been lost since Sunday.

They included five children and two women burnt to death in Napeitom village, five others killed in Lokwar village in Turkana South while crossing the River Turkwel from Nakwamoru village and a police officer killed by highway bandits in Nakabosan.

Bishop Mbinda said there is no respect for life in the two sub-counties as attacks on children and women and holding hostage residents of Kapedo and Lomelo villages violated the sanctity of life.

"We the religious leaders of Turkana strongly condemn these acts and once again call for calm and value for human life,” he said. 

“We call upon the Ministry of Interior, led by Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, to take decisive action to protect lives and property, whilst restoring calm in the affected areas ahead of the General Election."

He said the bandits also broke into the Catholic church at Kapedo on July 23 and stole everything.

"I have asked those who stole to return whatever they took as a gesture for reconciliation. I believe we can pacify the border of Turkana and Pokot communities by calling on politicians and locals from the affected area to reconcile with each other," the Bishop said.

Sheikh Yusuf said the ongoing attacks are no longer a cattle rustling affair and called on the government to be steadfast in unravelling the individuals behind the inhumane acts at the border.

Governor Nanok

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok has claimed the Sunday attack was not a coincidence but a well-orchestrated move to disrupt next week’s elections and undermine the participation of voters.

“It is also meant to act as a tool for politicians to mobilise support by whipping up the emotions of residents," Mr Nanok claimed as he condemned what he said was police laxity.

He claimed that the police base in Napeitom village had no officers at the time of the attack, but Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed dismissed the allegations.

“Ignore the nonsense. The police were there and prevented a possible massacre,” he said.

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