Two senior security officers were dispatched to the volatile North Rift region as a governor and two MPs called for the rearming of police reservists to contain attacks.
General Service Unit (GSU) Commandant Douglas Kirocho and his Rapid Deployment Unit D.G. Mawinyi will oversee the security operation in the troubled Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu and Turkana counties as hundreds of residents flee in fear of retaliatory attacks. The attacks have also spread to Elgeyo-Marakwet and Laikipia.
They will work with the Rift Valley security team to develop a long-term solution to the perennial inter-community conflicts that have already led to multiple deaths this year alone.
“The persistent elements of misconduct and inter-communal squabbling have contributed to instability in the region, prompting the government to take urgent action on this matter,” said a statement from the ministry.
Hundreds of families have left their homes in Kapyego on the West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet border following the attacks that led to the killing of one man earlier this week. The man was said to have been a GSU officer who was on leave but was in a group of bandits that had attacked a village and made away with cattle.
In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Tenderwa, Kamelei, Kamalogon and Kapkao on the border with West Pokot remained deserted following the Tuesday killing.
The Nation team saw villagers fleeing with their belongings. Most of them have sought refuge in neighbouring Takar and Kapyego villages, which are on higher grounds.
Ms Teresia Toroitich, a resident, said the attacks started at the beginning of the year despite police patrols to crack down on the criminals.
“The elderly and schoolchildren have been hit hard by the rise in insecurity. We have not eaten for the past two days since the incident took place and the situation is likely to worsen unless urgent security measures are taken,” said Ms Toroitich.
The attacks have interrupted learning in four schools — Kalya, Tenderwa, Kemelei and Kaberwo — with teachers and pupils relocating to safer areas.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, who toured the area, accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killings that have disrupted socio-economic activities.
He claimed more than 30 people have been killed since the beginning of the year and called on Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to deploy more security personnel to the region.
In Githiga and Ol Moran wards in Laikipia West sub-county, tension was high following renewed cattle rustling and bandit attacks. On Wednesday, armed cattle rustlers made away with 30 sheep belonging to Ms Mary Wangari.
“The cattle rustlers, who were armed with guns, invaded my home. They drove away my animals towards the Laikipia Nature Conservancy,” said Ms Wangari, a resident of Milimani in Githiga.
Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru and his Laikipia North counterpart Sara Korere faulted the National Police Service for disarming police reservists while leaving bandits and other gangs in the area to roam freely.
Stories by Wycliff Kipsang, Oscar Kakai, Steve Njuguna and Samwel Owino