Disarmament exercise kicks off in Turkana, East Pokot after deadly attacks

Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery (centre) flanked by his Principal Secretary Monica Juma (left) and Deputy IG Samuel Arachi addressing a press conference at Harambee House, Nairobi. (Photo:Andrew Kilonzi/Standard)

Kenya: A disarmament exercise has been declared in Turkana and East Pokot areas following ethnic clashes that left more than 50 people dead.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the exercise is aimed at ensuring security in the region.

"The government has today decided to commence with immediate effect operation in the affected areas to arrest the culprits and disarm all the communities in this region," said Nkaissery Wednesday.

But such a move in the past has failed to bear fruits and it is unclear if it will work this time round.

He said since Sunday, a series of attacks in Sarima in Samburu, Lomerock on the border of Samburu and Turkana and Nadome in Turkana East have left a trail of death and destruction.

"Innocent men, women and even children today lie dead in the hands of bandits that visited unimaginable terror upon them," said Nkaissery.

He said the North Rift has remained a valley of death for innocent Kenyans since Sunday, despite an agreement local leaders had on January 7, 2015 signed to keep peace and criminalise cattle rustling and any violence.

Nkaissery and top security chiefs are set to visit the region Thursday as part of efforts to get the exact number of the dead. He addressed the press in his office accompanied by Deputy Inspector General of Administration Police Samuel Arachi and outgoing PS Monica Juma.

Kenya Red Cross officials said some 75 people have been killed in four days of cattle raids and revenge attacks in the areas.

“Over the last four days, close to 75 Kenyans have died. Is it worth it, and what for?" Kenya Red Cross chief Abbas Gullet was quoted saying.

Gunmen from Turkana are suspected of having launched an attack on Monday against an ethnic Pokot village along the Turkana-East Pokot district border, an area prone to deadly conflicts between the two communities.

This is said to have been a retaliatory attack after a cattle rustling incident.

The deaths have attracted condemnation from the public, accusing the government of being insensitive and selective while maintaining peace.