Three injured as bandits attack vehicles along Kitale - Lodwar road

Bandits attacked a Turkana county government vehicle on Sunday and sprayed it with bullets. The occupants escaped unhurt.

Burnt police vehicles at KWS hotspot area on February 15, 2023, where four police officers were killed and seven injured by bandits.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Traffic along the Kitale - Lodwar road remains a matter of life and death as daring bandits attacked a vehicle near Kaakong Trading Centre on Monday night and another vehicle in the KWS hotspot area in Turkana South Sub County early Tuesday morning despite an ongoing security operation.

In the first incident, the bandits injured a driver while in the second the driver and his passenger were injured.

Turkana County Police Commander Samwel Ndanyi confirmed that three armed bandits attacked a truck travelling from Kitale to Lodwar at 8:27pm, just 100 metres from the town centre.

"A 37-year-old driver identified as Mohammed Abdullahi reported that the bandits started shooting indiscriminately at the windscreen but refused to stop. One of the bullets aimed at him and a passenger lodged in his left buttock as he sped away," Mr Ndanyi said.

The county police boss said despite the bullet in his body, the driver managed to drive as far as Lokichar without stopping at Lokichar Sub-County Hospital where police officers visited him and found that he had received first aid.

"The passenger, who later became the co-driver, drove the vehicle to Lodwar and rushed the injured driver to Lodwar County Referral Hospital for further treatment," Mr Ndanyi said.

He said the second truck, which was also heading to Lodwar, was attacked in the KWS hotspot area and the driver also managed to drive to Kaakong Centre to receive first aid at a local dispensary. The two occupants were also taken to Lodwar County and Referral Hospital.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations based at Lokichar Sub County Headquarters are investigating the incidents after a 30-year-old woman, Jackline Ewalan, was shot dead in a highway robbery near Kaakong Centre.

Ms Ewalan was shot dead on 21 March while taking her cancer-stricken mother to Eldoret for treatment in a Quick Shuttle Sacco public service vehicle that was attacked by about 10 bandits who also injured the driver, David Wekesa, and another passenger, 14-year-old Diana Akila, before robbing other passengers.

Lodwar Township MCA Ruth Kuya said the resurgence of attacks on the highway was a signal for a multi-agency security operation to change tactics in dealing with highly mobile bandits.

"We expected that the security operation involving the Kenya Defence Forces would eliminate bandits terrorising border residents with the intention of expanding their territory. However, attacks on innocent road users who are neither Turkana nor Pokot have increased. If the Cabinet Secretary for Internal Affairs, Kithure Kindiki, is unable to deal with the bandits, he should resign," she said.

She called for KDF and GSU officers to be redeployed to KWS area to ensure quick response whenever bandits attack vehicles.

She called for the redeployment of KDF and GSU officers to the KWS area to ensure quick response whenever bandits attack vehicles.

Mr Jacob Irungu, who deals with transport services, said the resurgence of bandit attacks on the highway was having a negative impact on the economy of Turkana County where most of the basic commodities are sourced from Kitale, Eldoret, Nairobi and Mombasa.

"Many drivers have threatened to down tools until they are assured of sustainable peace and security. My driver is a victim of the latest banditry-related attacks as the windscreen of a truck transporting goods from Kitale to Lodwar was smashed while he was fleeing from bandits whose mission was to rob him," said Mr Irungu.

However, the county police commander said security patrols and escorts along the road, especially between Kainuk and Kalemngorok, have been intensified using armoured personnel carriers.