Two more people have been killed in Kerio Valley and two others injured following the escalating Pokot-Marakwet fights that has now seen the death toll rise to 42 in the last two months.
The attack happened less than 12 hours after top security officers were ambushed by bandits as they inspected the route that was to be used by the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet on his planned visit to the area on Saturday.
Mr Boinnet’s visit was later postponed to Monday following the attack.
On Friday night, a fight between a Pokot and Marakwet near Kerio River led to the death of the former warrior on Friday evening after he was accused of aggression.
The Pokot angered by the killing of their own launched retaliatory bandit raids on Marakwet targeting motorists and passers-by along Tot-Chesongoch road that resulted in another death.
Two more people, a nurse and an old man, were injured when a hearse was attacked by the Pokot.
The body of a Marakwet youth was recovered at Kapkobil junction on Saturday morning with multiple gunshots while that of the killed Pokot warrior was allegedly dragged across River Kerio by his kinsmen.
“We are following the leads after receiving two different versions including the fighting that could have attracted the rest of the attacks,” said the police chief on Saturday.
During the attack on the hearse at Chebashak, near Tot trading centre in the Valley, the coffin was also shot at.
According to those who were in minibus carrying he body, the gun wielding bandits started shooting at the vehicle after the driver ignored their orders to stop.
The nurse and an old man sustained gunshot wounds and had bullets lodged in the chest and leg respectively, according to Kibiriem Location Chief Dolphina Kilimo.
The administrator said the driver decided to switch off lights and speed off driving in darkness in desperate move to avoid the attackers.
“He drove off straight under hail of bullets and the bullets unfortunately got two people. The driver drove to the nearby Tot Police Station where he reported the matter and quick arrangements were made to rush the critical victims to Eldoret to remove the bullets lodged in their bodies, “said the chief.
He said the two were taken to Memorial Hospital in Eldoret.
She said the mourners were travelling from Eldoret to Kamariny village in Kerio valley for the burial.
County Police Coordinator Tom Odera said investigations into the incident are underway.
“We are following up leads that informed the banditry attack. Our officers on patrol provided escort for the injured people to the hospital and also escorted the body to where it was headed for burial,” he said.
The attack came few hours after top police chiefs were ambushed by bandits in Endo location and driven off under hail of bullets.
On Saturday, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen who has been under criticism from the locals in the troubled region because of his unwavering support for the government expressed his support frustration at the renewed fights in the Valley.
“The insecurity in Kerio Valley really sucks. I am totally pissed off. There is a deliberate sabotage somewhere. Nkt,” he posted on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the government has been asked to beef up security in the volatile West Pokot-Turkana-Baringo-Elgeyo Marakwet borders following the recent fights.
Speaking in Chepareria, Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto asked the government to recruit more Kenya Police Reservists in order to ensure peace along the borders.
“The government should speed up the recruitment of the reservists to ensure that locals are safe,” he said.
He asked the government to deploy the anti-stock theft police along the borders.
“The anti-stock theft officers should be relocated from Keringet to the hotspot areas to help in recovering stolen cattle,” he said.
The MP said many lives and property had been lost to the incessant attacks.
Additional reporting by Oscar Kakai