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500 families flee homes in Kitui as armed herders kill four residents

By Paul Mutua | Published Wed, January 4th 2017 at 14:52, Updated January 4th 2017 at 15:03 GMT +3

About 500 families in Kitui have fled their homes after attacks on New Year's eve that left four people dead.

Some of the residents who fled Ngomeni and Ukasi wards have sought refuge at Kathungu and Sosoma town in Ukasi after the attacks by herders armed with AK-47 rifles.

Ngomeni and Ukasi MCAs Nzungi Ngwele and Kilonzo Kitema respectively said the four victims were killed at Inyanzae and Katangani areas. They said among those killed were two elderly men who were resting under a tree while grazing their cattle.

There are fears that primary schools in the area like Kasiluni, Inyanzae and Katangani might not re-open today due to insecurity.

Mr Ngwele said tension was high in the area as the raiders could still be seen roaming in the area searching for grazing fields and dwindling water points for their livestock.

"Residents in the two wards are fleeing their homes with their livestock to Kasiluni Police Post, Ngomeni shopping centre and other safer areas for fear of further attacks. There is a lot of panic here," the MCA said.

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He said the Jubilee administration should show commitment in the fight against crime and terrorism by recruiting homeguards in the county and providing them with firearms.

And Mr Kitema said there was concern over rampant insecurity in the area.

Governor Julius Malombe urged the national government to act decisively and come up with a lasting solution to the perennial banditry menace.

Dr Malombe said the government should deploy director of surveys to erect beacons along the boundary between Kitui and Tana River counties, shift the road barrier at Ukasi to the border point and deploy a GSU contingent to patrol the border and help in the maintenance of order.

"Security and protection of citizens is the national government's foremost function. The people of Kitui living in parts of Mwingi North, Mwingi Central, Kitui East and Kitui South sub-counties have over the recent past been experiencing insecurity associated with acts of banditry by gun-brandishing camel herders and charcoal burners," Malombe said.

Kitui County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich confirmed the attack and said he had led a county security team to the area to assess the situation.

He said more security personnel had been deployed to patrol the attacked area and defuse tension.

"There is no cause for alarm. Security personnel are alert and combing the area. I have ordered the DCI officers to investigate the motive of the killings because nothing was stolen during the raid," Mr Cherutich said.

The commissioner urged the residents to remain calm as the Government tries to establish the motive of the shooting.

He was accompanied by area MP John Munuve (Mwingi North).