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State silent as bodies rot after deadly Pokot-Turkana clashes

By Vincent Mabatuk | Published Mon, November 28th 2016 at 00:00, Updated November 27th 2016 at 23:48 GMT +3
Residents flee from Lomelo village in Baringo County following an attack by suspected Turkana raiders in which at least 14 people were killed, yesterday. The Government is in the spotlight after bodies of 14 people killed by cattle rustlers were left rotting along the Turkana-Baringo border. (PHOTO: JOSEPH KIPSANG/ STANDARD)

The Government is in the spotlight after bodies of 14 people killed by cattle rustlers were left rotting along the Turkana-Baringo border.

The decomposing bodies were abandoned in the scorching sun at Puspusion village, more than 24 hours after they were shot dead at around 4pm on Saturday.

The crime scene had yesterday become a no-go zone with hundreds of security officers, including members of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), remaining in their camps.

A 14-year-old who survived the massacre was yesterday rescued by villagers with his right hand shattered by the raiders' bullet and another lodged in his buttocks.

Mosop Aitodung, whose three brothers were killed, rode on a donkey for several kilometres before being picked by an Administration Police vehicle.

At Chemolingot County Hospital, doctors referred the boy to Kabarnet for specialised treatment and surgery to remove the bullet.

Violence broke out on Friday at a peace event leading to the death of three people at Lomelo trading centre in Turkana East.

The meeting, according to Mosop's brother Tuwot Aitudung, was aimed at making arrangements on how to surrender 163 goats belonging to members of the Turkana community, which were stolen by Pokot cattle rustlers last week at Suguta Valley.

Those killed were Yuka Nyangatiang, Arekai Kidomo and an unidentified woman. From here, the attackers suspected to be from Turkana community proceeded to Puspusion in Silale, Baringo and surrounded three villages.

Eight people, a majority of them children, did not survive the attack in which 1,900 cattle and 762 goats were stolen and driven towards Kamuke in Turkana East.

The uncollected bodies include those of six brothers - Kachii, Sapan, Kariama, Kukat, Tunot, Lopenyo, Longuan and Achawu.

Two other survivors suspected to have been shot and left for dead are believed to be hiding in the Ruguta plains, with political leaders and community elders appealing to the Government to launch a rescue mission.

"Anybody disputing this should tell us another place on earth where citizens' bodies are left to rot and be feasted on by wild animals," said Tuwot.

The killings have brought back memories of a similar incident in Nadome village in which more than 100 members of the Pokot community were killed and their bodies left to rot in thickets by the State.

Led by Silale Ward MCA Nelson Lotela, community leaders demanded  investigations into the conduct of Turkana Kenya Police Reservists (KPR), saying Government firearms were allegedly used in the two attacks.

"The stolen animals are already inside Kamuke villages and surrounded by hundreds of Turkana herders and KPR. By yesterday, more than 100 herders from the Pokot community entered Turkana and our appeal to the Government is to swiftly respond to the distress call," said Lotela.

A visit by The Standard confirmed that Kabau, Chesirkon, Chepisya, Puspusion,Loreng, Kapetakener, Apinding and Ashakoyon villages in Tiaty remained deserted, with women and children spotted fleeing from the troubled border.

Confirming the raid, Tiaty Sub-County Commissioner Daniel Kurui said the animals were driven to Kamuke but declined to divulge more information to his counterparts on the Turkana side.

Tension was also high on the Turkana side, with similar movements reported at Kapetakinei, Nguroluka and Kulel after fears that some Pokot members were planning a retaliatory attack. There were cases of children and women being withdrawn from suspected battle grounds from both sides.

At the Ameyan livestock market, Kapedo residents mainly from the Turkana community kept off the event that saw a high turnout from Pokot traders and villagers.

"The situation is bad. Villagers are only buying maize flour and sugar, an indication that people are preparing for a tough confrontation," said Lomuk Cheptorkoi, a Nasorot resident.

Ribkwo MCA Daniel Tuit described the two attacks as pre-planned, saying despite a General Service Unit (GSU) camp hosting more than 40 heavily armed officers established at Lomelo, innocent residents whose mission was to witness the handing over ceremony were beaten and shot dead in their presence.

The leader who toured the area and urged residents to observe peace asked Interior Cabinet Secretary Nkaissery to order Turkana East MP Nicholas Ngikor to record a statement over the attacks.

The duo also renewed calls to have Tiaty MP Asman Kamama relinquish his post as chairman of the National Assembly Security committee, accusing him of failing to end senseless killings in the North Rift despite being from the worst affected region.

It is reported that another attack took place yesterday afternoon along  Kerio Valley, leaving scores injured and an unknown number of cattle stolen. A Pokot herder caught in the crossfire was rushed to Chemolingot County Hospital for treatment.

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