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Killings in Kerio Valley must come to an end

By The Standard | Published Wed, March 1st 2017 at 00:00, Updated February 28th 2017 at 20:39 GMT +3
Resident of Kilang'ata in Marakwet East in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, watch in disbelief after a group of youths from neighbouring county invaded their village and drove away hundreds of livestock across Kerio River on Friday morning. More than 40 people living along Pokot-Marakwet borders have succumbed to death following the ongoing skirmishes. PHOTO: PETER OCHIENG/STANDARD.

The ravages of an ongoing drought have hardly been tackled in some areas of the Kerio Valley and now bandits are spreading terror. For over two weeks, there have been reports of deaths in Baringo, Marakwet, West Pokot and Turkana counties following unrestrained attacks.

These attacks have conveniently been placed at the feet of cattle rustlers but clearly, there is more than meets the eye.

The audacity of the marauding bandits is such that last week, the presence of Deputy President William Ruto in the troubled area did not detract them from going ahead with their dark mission.

While bandits have a free run of the troubled area, citizens weakened by pangs of hunger have been forced to abandon their homesteads in search of elusive peace. Yet Kenya has a police service that should guarantee them safety and peace. The tragedy is that the police appear to be asleep on the job and have no idea how to tackle the menace.

The police might be forgiven if this were a completely new phenomenon that caught them unawares, but cattle rustling and skirmishes in Kerio Valley are a perennial occurrence that by now should have seen the Government put in place structures and measures to deal firmly with them.

It behoves the Government to dig deeper and establish the political angle behind these killings that occur almost every year but more viciously in an election year. Notable names have already been associated with the violence and the least the Government can do is ascertain the truth and take punitive and corrective measures.

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The significance behind the slaying of a Member of the County Assembly and a parliamentary aspirant in Tiaty constituency cannot be ignored.

The commencement of a security operation in Kerio Valley yesterday is a move in the right direction, but it should not be allowed to run amok.


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