Suspected Somali bandits kill two, torch houses in Mwingi

Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu consoles victims and residents of Ukasi in Kitui County on February 21, 2016 after attack by suspected Somali bandits that left two people dead. PHOTO | KITAVI MUTUA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • During the Monday attack, the first victim, a 75-year-old man who couldn’t run for his life due to old age, was sprayed with bullets in Ngooni Village and later beheaded with an axe as his family scampered for safety.

  • Eastern Regional Commissioner Wycliffe Ogallo directed that the herders produce letters of introduction from their respective chiefs in their counties of origin before being allowed into Kitui County.

Tension is high in Ukasi, Mwingi, following the killing of two more people and the torching of several homesteads by suspected Somali bandits.

Armed with guns, the bandits ambushed several homesteads near the volatile border of Kitui and Tana River counties in the latest wave of senseless violence, which has so far claimed 28 lives since last year, maimed dozens and displaced hundreds of families. 

During the Monday attack, the first victim, a 75-year-old man who couldn’t run for his life due to old age, was sprayed with bullets in Ngooni Village and later beheaded with an axe as his family scampered for safety.

According to Ukasi Location Chief Benjamin Mui, the attackers later set ablaze several houses in his compound, reducing them to ashes.

The administrator told the Nation that the bandits had earlier kidnapped Mr Katumo’s wife outside the family compound but later abandoned after beating her up.

The woman sustained injuries and is undergoing treatment at Mwingi Level Four Hospital.

ANOTHER KILLING

Another elderly man was killed in a similar fashion near the Mwingi-Garissa highway, after he was cornered while escaping the daylight ambush.

“Since 2016, we’ve lost 28 people in such banditry attacks and eight of those victims were killed in the last two months alone,” the chief explained, adding that residents are living in fear and were starving after their houses were torched.

He said another man survived yesterday’s attack after he was shot in his legs and seriously wounded. He is being treated at the same hospital.

The killings happened just one week after another man was ambushed and gunned down while grazing his cattle in the neighbouring Kasiluni area, sparking renewed tension in the county, with leaders demanding firm and decisive action by the government.

Six primary schools in Ukasi remain closed since January after hundreds of families fled the area and started living in makeshift camps following the killing of four people on Christmas Day last year.

OPERATION PLANNED

The closed learning schools are Ngooni, Engamba, Kasiluni, Kathungu Inyanzai, and Sosoma primary schools.

Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu, who visited the area condemned the bandit incidents, saying the pastoral conflict between the Kamba and Oroma communities was a smokescreen for banditry.

"We will not sit and watch our people being butchered helplessly, those responsible for security must stop these attacks or else we devise our way of protecting ourselves," the MP said after visiting the affected families.

Mr Mutambu urged the government to beef up security in the area by evicting illegal residents and herders who have invaded the area in search of pastures for their livestock.

No arrests have been made by police so far, but Eastern Regional Commissioner Wycliffe Ogallo promised that the government will conduct an operation in the South Kitui and Kora game reserves to flush out the herders.

WARNING ABOUT LEASES

Mr Ogallo, who toured the area yesterday, said everything will be done to ensure security is restored in the areas bordering Garissa and Tana River counties as police pursue the bandits.

“The government will start recruiting police reservists among the residents to boost their security as we conduct operations to mop up all illegal arms being used to terrorise innocent people,” Mr Ogallo said.

He said three police camps had been established on the borders of the three counties and a contingent of security personnel deployed to contain banditry attacks.

The senior administrator also cautioned residents against entering into lease agreements for grazing pastures and water with strangers without involving government authorities.

He directed that the herders produce letters of introduction from their respective chiefs in their counties of origin before being allowed into Kitui County.

"We'll enforce our mechanisms to drive away these invaders from our midst, but the residents must also play their civic duty to cooperate and provide information to security agencies," he said.

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