What you need to know:
- Some of the residents were desperately trying to recover whatever was left of their homes. The troops have set up their base at Kapedo town centre, which lies on the border of Baringo and Turkana counties.
- Business has come to a standstill with many shops closed. Many students who had just closed school for the December holidays were stranded as others walked to reach home.
- The Chemolingot military campaign came barely two days after Tiaty Sub-county Commissioner Daniel Kurui appealed to residents to co-operate with the soldiers by surrendering illegal firearms.
More than 30 people were injured and property destroyed after the military descended on Tiaty Sub-county to recover stolen and seize illegal firearms.
Residents are fleeing the area in panic, with the Red Cross reporting that some of those seriously injured in the Thursday night operation, including a pregnant woman, had been transferred to hospitals in Nakuru for specialised treatment.
Witnesses said Kenya Defence Forces’ raids started shortly after midnight.
There were claims that the soldiers torched houses at Chemalingot shopping centre on the fourth day of the hunt for guns and bandits following last weekend’s killing of 19 Administration Police officers.
Last Sunday, President Kenyatta, who toured the area after the killings, ordered the residents to surrender firearms and uniforms belonging to the officers and identify the killers or face serious consequences. Sixteen guns have been recovered so far.
When the Saturday Nation visited the area yesterday, smoke was billowing from shells of some of the destroyed houses as residents spoke of ruthless soldiers sparing no one in their way.
DESPERATE TO RECOVER
Some of the residents were desperately trying to recover whatever was left of their homes. The troops have set up their base at Kapedo town centre, which lies on the border of Baringo and Turkana counties.
Communities from both tribes have laid claim to the town.
Lorry driver Isaac Chelimo, who supplies goods to shops between Marigat and Chemolingot, claimed the soldiers stole Sh50,000 from him.
“I had just dropped goods to my customers and I decided to take a room with three other men when the officers knocked on the door demanding that we surrender firearms.
“Our pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears as the officers rounded us up and beat us up badly. When I went back to my room, my money and phone were gone,” he said.
Mrs Fatuma Kosotot, whose house was reduced to ashes, said the officers struck in the dead of the night and beat up her husband, demanding illegal firearms.
“They scattered everything in the house, threatening everybody, including my children, using guns. This was a most harrowing experience for my family,” Mrs Kasotot said.
Kositei Location Chief Joshua Akeno was not spared after his posho mill was set ablaze.
SMASHED HIS LEGS
“I don’t know how I will start all over again. The posho mill business has been vital in looking after my family. I have four children in high school and two have just finished Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations. Even if I’m a government official, the government has failed in this,” Mr Akeno said.
Mr Alex Chirchir claimed that the military men smashed his legs during the midnight raid. Both legs were heavily bandaged.
The military raid has sparked fears in the area with the ongoing building of Loruk-Chemolingot-Barpelo road by Intex Construction Company already suspended.
Business has come to a standstill with many shops closed. Many students who had just closed school for the December holidays were stranded as others walked to reach home.
Elders from the Pokot condemned the alleged arson, terming it as a big hindrance to peace efforts in the area. “The residents have started co-operating with the government by surrendering illegal firearms. Why harass them and burn their houses?” Mr Paul Lutodo, a Pokot elder, asked.
“The operation should not look as if it is aimed at ruining the Pokot economy. As we speak, I don’t know the whereabouts of my wife and seven children,” Mr Lutodo said.
Mr Kioko Kiilu of the Kenya Red Cross said that the humanitarian organisation had seen seven burned residential buildings, three houses and one posho mill.
“We also managed to administer first aid to 29 casualties who had minor tissue injuries while we took two, including a woman with obstructed labour, to the Nakuru Provincial General Hospital,” said Mr Kiilu who briefed the media at the scene.
SEALED ALL EXIT POINTS
The Chemolingot military campaign came barely two days after Tiaty Sub-county Commissioner Daniel Kurui appealed to residents to co-operate with the soldiers by surrendering illegal firearms.
The administrator declined to comment saying the military had formally taken over.
According to police Inspector-General David Kimaiyo, 25 people have been arrested in connection with the Kapedo massacre.
“The manhunt for the attackers will also be extended to the neighbouring counties. We have already sealed all exit points,” Mr Kimaiyo told the Saturday Nation on phone.
A number of politicians in the area, including Baringo County Assembly Speaker William Kamket, have been charged with inciting residents to violence.
Leaders say the fight is over county boundaries and the resources in the region, including oil, water and pasture.