President William Ruto has ordered the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to conduct a joint security operation with the police in all bandit-prone areas starting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 14.
The government has also given a three-day amnesty for the surrender of firearms in the banditry hit regions.
“The president has directed the KDF to work jointly with the Kenya Police to weed out bandits in various places that have experienced cattle rustling and banditry in Baringo, Kerio Valley and other parts of the county,” a legislator who attended the meeting revealed to the Nation.Africa.
The meeting was attended by Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi, MPs William Kamket (Tiaty), Joseph Makilap (Baringo North), Joshua Chepyegon Kandie (Baringo Central), Charles Kamuren (Baringo South), Reuben Kiborek (Mogotio) and Musa Sirma (Eldama Ravine).
North Rift leaders who attended an interdenominational prayer service in Nakuru on Sunday asked the government to facilitate police officers in bandit-prone areas with choppers.
“In Kainuk Turkana we lost security officers and we want to request you as the Commander in Chief, that the officers be given a chopper to be able to handle the bandits,” said Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago.
He said the choppers would enable the officers on duty to respond rapidly to bandit attacks.
On Sunday, a tough-talking President Ruto reiterated the government’s stance on fighting bandits in the country.
The Head of State, who spoke during an interdenominational prayer service in Nakuru City, said the government will embrace new measures in its fight against banditry.
“We will use all means available to ensure we weed out bandits from the affected parts of the North Rift and other areas. My government will not entertain banditry,” said Dr Ruto.
In an effort to restore peace and security to the North Rift region, he issued instructions for Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to camp in the affected areas until sanity is restored.
“I know we have issues regarding security operations in North Rift. I have instructed Kindiki to leave his office in Nairobi and then go live in North Rift until these citizens stop losing their lives,” said Dr Ruto.
“With the government’s efforts, we will deal with them and ensure no Kenyan life is lost. We will deal with them ruthlessly,” he added.
The deployment of KDF comes after recent rampant incidents of banditry in the region that have left residents living in fear.
Last week, four police officers were killed in an ambush along the Kitale-Lodwar Highway.
At least 12 other people, including seven police officers, are admitted in hospital with multiple bullet injuries.
A sub-county police commander is among the injured.
The attackers also burnt two police vehicles after looting them.
Police said the officers were on patrol on the highway on Friday evening when they were ambushed near the KWS camp in Kaakong.
On Sunday night, in yet another attack, an expectant teacher was gang-raped by armed bandits at Kainuk area, in Turkana South.
Banditry has over decades caused untold suffering characterised by many deaths and injuries on the people of Kerio Valley (Elgeyo Marakwet) and other affected counties including West Pokot, Baringo, Laikipia, Turkana and Samburu.
Drought ravaging some of the banditry prone areas like Samburu, Baringo and other Northern Kenya counties, is believed to be triggering cattle rustling and banditry activities.
Many people have been killed in Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, Laikipia, Marsabit and other Northern Kenya counties in the past months.
Loss of limb and life, violent displacement of populations and a sense of utter hopelessness is the order of life in a landscape of incessant cattle rustling, murder and mayhem.
Successive governments have issued edicts against the criminal menace that informs life in these regions, yet none has shown the capacity to end it- less still the will.
Their target is livestock in the sprawling killing fields.
In their wake, the bandits leave behind a trail of destruction of property. They not only kill the harmless residents; they also turn their guns on the security personnel.