A police officer takes cover after suspected Pokot bandits attacked residents of Mukutani village in Baringo South. [Photo: Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Locals are leaving their homes in droves for safer places, following the killing of a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officer and injuring five others by bandits in Rugus, Baringo County, on Friday.
Armed bandits are said to have taken over Mukutani, Rugus and Arabal locations in Baringo South and residents now fear further attacks.
The bandits suspected to be from the Pokot community also injured a General Service Unit (GSU) officer and two Kenya Police Reservists (KPR).
The injured soldiers were airlifted to Nairobi for treatment, while the GSU officer was rushed to Marigat Hospital and the reservists are nursing injuries at St Mary’s Hospital in Gilgil.
According to a military officer, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media, the soldiers were coming from Komolion for an operation in Rugus when they were attacked at 9am.
Baringo Police Commandant Peter Ndung’u only confirmed the injuries of the police reservist and the GSU officer, saying he did not have authority to speak about KDF soldiers.
Ndung’u said the two officers were on normal patrol in Rugus, an area that has recorded numerous raids, when they were accosted by armed bandits.
Despite repeated assurances from the government, the hardened bandits continue to terrorise and kill people and steal their livestock.
Two weeks ago, a KDF officer was injured in an attack at Kamwenje area on the border of Baringo and Laikipia counties.
Local leaders now want the Government to quickly restore security and normalcy in affected areas.
Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim condemned the attacks, saying the areas are still unsafe, despite the Government having deployed a contingent of security personnel.
“The government should find a quick solution to insecurity in parts of Baringo because as it stands, an operation is ongoing but we still have numerous attacks,” said Kipchoim.
Mukutani MCA Renson Parken said most residents now live in pathetic condition as they have fled their homes for fear of more attacks.
“Hundreds of locals who had returned to their homes are now fleeing to safer places again,” said Parken. The locals from Rugus have migrated to Kiserian and Kasiela.
Rugus Chief John Lemukut said it is unfortunate that the attacks are reported despite the ongoing operation by contingent of security officers.
Lemukut said learning has been paralysed at Nasukuro, Rugus and Mukutani primary schools because teachers and pupils don’t want to go to school for fear of banditry attacks.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Baringo County executive secretary Joshua Cheptarus said schools that have been closed in Baringo South include Arabal, Kapindasum, Kapindasum and Chemorinyon primary. In Baringo North, Loruk, Kagir, Kamwetio, Kosiela and Toluk primary schools have also been closed.
More than 400 families from Mukutani are now residing at Eldume IDP camp after they were forced out of their homes by bandits who killed 11 people, including children and women, in March.
The national government has extended a security operation that started late last month in parts of Baringo North and South.
Ndung’u said since the operation started, 16 illegal guns and a number of bullets have been recovered from bandits — four in Baringo and 12 in Laikipia County.