Tension is high in Tiaty Sub-County of Baringo County as locals flee their homes fearing they may be targeted by hundreds of security officers deployed to fight Pokot bandits who have wreaked havoc in the area.
The operation which started on Tuesday is aimed at flushing out bandits and illegal herders who have invaded Baringo North and South sub counties.
More than 150 National Police Reservists and 230 police officers have been deployed to the county to silence the bandits and restore normalcy.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that trading centres in Tiaty including Chemolingot, Nginyang, Loruk, Churo and Tangulbei were Tuesday deserted and shops remained closed as residents fled at the start of the operation.
According to a resident from Chemolingot, Mr Paul Lotudo, locals left their homes almost immediately after Deputy President William Ruto launched the operation on Monday.
“All the towns and centres in Tiaty are deserted and people have moved to the neighbouring Laikipia, Turkana and West Pokot counties for fear of being attacked by the police conducting the operation.
“Businesses have stalled in the towns and no vehicle is plying Loruk- Chemolingot (road),” said Mr Lotudo.
He claimed that police were always ruthless and there are fears that innocent people may suffer during the operation.
“All government officials from other communities who were working in Tiaty have since fled the area. Learning remains paralysed in all schools in the area and health centres have also been closed,” he added.
According to Baringo County Administration Police Commander Robinson Ndiwa, the operation will only target volatile areas in Baringo North and South Sub-Counties.
Among areas targeted are Kagir, Ng’aratuko, Kagir, Yatya, Chepkesin and Kinyach in Baringo North and Chebinyiny, Arabal, Noosukro, Ruggus, Mukutani and Ng’elecha in Baringo South.
“We have officially launched the operation to arrest the runaway insecurity in Baringo which has led to more than 10 people being killed and thousands of others displaced.
“We will not relent until we flush out the Pokot bandits who have deliberately wreaked havoc and will deal with them firmly,” said Mr Ndiwa.
The AP commander said they will not allow armed bandits to reign supreme in the area, killing people recklessly and stealing livestock.
“We have intelligence reports that the bandits moved three days ago towards Paka, Naudo, Akwichatis and Riongo areas in Tiaty.
“We will follow them to their hideouts and we urge the locals not to fear because we are not targeting a community but criminals.
“We, however, urge the locals in areas of operation to tell us where the criminals hide because these are people who are known and they should identify them,” said Mr Ndiwa.
More than 40 schools remain closed Baringo North and South despite the massive operation and it remains unclear when they will be opened.