Where are the soldiers? Residents cry as bandits reign terror
What you need to know:
- Residents in disturbed areas want the government to explain why it deployed KDF troops to the region, yet the bandits continue to rule
- Heavily armed bandits killed two people on Wednesday
- On Monday, angry Baringo North residents staged public protests and confronted Deputy Inspector General of police Noor Gabow over the incessant attacks in the region
- The deputy police IG was recently deployed to Chemolingot, Tiaty as the commander of Operation Maliza Uhalifu North Rift
Residents in Baringo North and Marakwet East are demanding to know why the government deployed the military to the region, yet there were sustained attacks by bandits.
It follows the killing on Wednesday of two people by bandits, in the latest wave of attacks and killings sweeping across the disturbed areas of the North Rift region, amid an ongoing security operation by joint forces.
Residents are now wondering why those behind the recent sustained spate of attacks have not been arrested and disarmed by joint security officers deployed to the region to fight the criminals.
Heavily armed bandits suspected to be from the neighbouring Tiaty West sub-county raided Samar grazing field in Chesongoch, Marakwet East, and attacked herders, shooting one dead.
Chechan location chief Abraham Yano said police officers from the nearby Anti Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) camp responded, but the bandits were too fast for them.
"Tension is very high and we hope something decisive is done to arrest the deteriorating situation. The attacks have become an almost daily affair," he said.
It happened as the criminals launched twin banditry attacks in Kosile and Ng’aratuko villages in the volatile Saimo-Soi ward in Baringo North, killing another herder and driving away livestock.
Residents of both regions have called out the government for failing to contain the persistent insecurity, questioning the purpose of the ongoing security operation, and particularly the deployment of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops.
"The bandits are carrying out their attacks unperturbed and the government is telling us there is an operation. We do not see the value of the operation because the bandits are terrorising with unprecedented boldness," said Ms Winnie Kanda, a resident.
Tension has gripped the affected villages following the Wednesday afternoon attacks.
Deputy IG confronted
The attacks happened just a day after angry residents held public protests on Monday and confronted Deputy Inspector General of police Noor Gabow over the incessant attacks in the region.
The deputy police IG was recently deployed to Chemolingot, Tiaty as the commander of Operation Maliza Uhalifu North Rift, to coordinate the ongoing security operation to smoke out bandits and seize illegal guns.
On seeing Mr Gabow, the protestors demanded that he alight from his vehicle and explain why attacks by bandits had increased despite the ongoing operation.
Transport was paralyzed for hours after protestors barricaded the Loruk-Marigat road, with those plying the route left stranded, including learners who were reporting to their respective schools after the mid-term break.
They said they will not allow vehicles to ferry foodstuffs to the neighboring Tiaty Sub-County, which they said was harboring the bandits.
The Wednesday Baringo North killing brought to three the number of people killed in just 10 days, with four others, including a Grade Five pupil, nursing gunshot injuries. There have been more than 14 attacks in the region in the same period.
In the Wednesday attack, the criminals drove away with 66 cows and 70 goats towards Loyamorok in Tiaty sub-county.
The first attack happened at 1pm when dozens of raiders struck a few metres from Ng’aratuko Primary School and started shooting indiscriminately before stealing the goats.
According to Mr Richard Chepchomei, the herder who was grazing the livestock escaped unhurt.
The second attack happened an hour later at the nearby Kosile village, where a herder was shot dead. The attackers drive away more than 100 cattle belonging to three households.
“We wonder what is happening in this part of the world where killings and stock theft are the order of the day. We are tired of burying people courtesy of archaic banditry. We are perturbed that the killings are happening amid an ongoing security operation,” said Mr Chepchomei.
Explain KDF deployment
Residents said the government should explain why it deployed KDF troops and other security forces to the region, yet they were seemingly unable to deal with the menace.
The locals appealed to President William Ruto to intervene and provide a solution to the spate of attacks that have also paralysed learning in the area.
Baringo County police commander Julius Kiragu said the body of the deceased was moved to the Baringo County Referral Hospital morgue.
“We have the military and the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) officers in the affected villages that are pursuing the criminals. As we speak, all the goats stolen have been recovered by the multi-agency team. We urge the locals to remain calm,” said Mr Kiragu.
In Elgeyo Marakwet, Governor Wisley Rotich said bulldozers have been dispatched to Kerio Valley to help move KDF and police camps to River Kerio, which has always been the bandits' playground.
"As counties in the region, we shall continue supporting when called upon in pursuit of lasting peace. We urge the security agencies to expedite this process and save lives," said the governor.
Mr Micah Chebon, a Ng’aratuko resident, appealed to President Ruto to fulfill his campaign promise of restoring peace in the region.
“We are appealing to the President himself to address the situation as he promised. We are tired of burying our people every time courtesy of armed criminals. Why is this thing becoming a menace despite the presence of a contingent of police officers? asked Mr Chebon.
Fled from hideouts
Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap said there is concern that bandits had fled from their hideouts and were hiding in bushes near people’s homesteads, from where they launch attacks.
Security officers deployed to deal with the bandits should move with speed, stop carrying out patrols along the road and go into the bushes where they are hiding and flush them out. Otherwise, they will be killing and stealing from the locals and going back into hiding,” said Mr Makilap.