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Baringo residents complain of harassment from security agents

Security personnel have intensified crackdowns on bandits wreaking havoc in Baringo County amid complaints of harassment of innocent civilians and destruction of property.

Residents claim that the agents set ablaze houses in Seretion in Tiaty sub-county, burning an infant to death.

The officers are said to have descended on the village on Sunday morning in two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and bombed houses indiscriminately as locals fled for their lives.

INDISCRIMINATE OPERATIONS
Mr Paul Lotudo, a resident, said the baby, which was asleep in a house, where it was left by its mother as she went to look for water, was burnt beyond recognition. He said hundreds of livestock were driven away.

“We fail to understand the intentions of these officers: Why kill innocent children and torch houses in the name of looking for armed bandits?” lamented Mr Lotudo.

“This is inhuman if it has reached to a point of killing innocent children.”

The elder asked the government to intervene and carry out a genuine disarmament of all communities, not target one.

He also wondered where the more than 800 livestock were taken yet residents had not stolen the animals.

“It seems the operation is aimed at sabotaging the economy of the Pokot community by killing our animals, which we rely on,” said Mr Lotudo and posed: “What does this government expect us to do when we have been rendered paupers by police (police agents) whom we expect to protect us?”

SURRENDER OF FIREARMS
According to Mr Lotudo, the village was deserted after residents fled to safer places like Kolowa and Kapedo for fear of more attacks by the agents.

Tension was high with many shops closed and others with shattered windows.

Pokot elders have condemned the alleged arson, which they termed a big hindrance to peace efforts.

“Residents have already started co-operating with the government by surrendering illegal firearms,” said Mr Lotudo. “Why harass them and burn their houses?

“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 children.”

Mr Lotudo described security agents as ruthless and feared that innocent people would fall victim to them.

The operation, which started two months ago in Baringo, is aimed at driving away bandits and illegal herders who have invaded the volatile Baringo North and South sub-counties.

FILE COMPLAINT

Tens of people have died due to rampant attacks, forcing the President Uhuru Kenyatta to deploy the Kenya Defence Forces soldiers to quell the situation.

Residents, especially women and children, have been evacuated and relocated to safer areas.

READ: Uhuru now deploys KDF to Baringo

READ: Locals flee Tiaty as crackdown begins

Contacted, Rift Valley Regional Co-ordinator Wanyama Musiambo said his office was yet to be notified of the alleged harassment and death of the infant.

“The family is yet to make a formal complaint on such an incident but I advise them to report to the nearest police station as a murder case and we will follow up the matter,” Mr Musiambo

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