Concerns over abducted and killed pupils caught up in cattle raids

Pupils of Lopelekwa primary school, Pokot South, West Pokot County during a lesson. [Irissheel Shanzu, Standard]
Teachers along banditry prone border of West Pokot and Turkana counties have raised concern over the threat of losing school-going children to attacks.

They say there have been cases where pupils are abducted while grazing their parent’s livestock.

A head teacher at Kour Primary School in West Pokot, Timothy Akasile said most weekends when pupils are left to herd livestock, they are usually at risk of being abducted. 

“My school has lost pupils due to cattle rustling. Two weeks ago, a Class Three boy was abducted and killed by suspected bandits. This instills fear among other school-going children,” he said.

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He said insecurity along the border has led to low enrollment especially in Ompolion, Takaiwa, Kasses and Kour areas.

Another teacher at Kasses Primary School, Ms Ninah Cheponyorio said insecurity has also affected teachers in the area.

She added that staff risk their lives in the insecurity-prone regions.

“We have heard incidents where bandits attack even schools; in other circumstances, residents flee insecure areas and camp at schools. The schools need to be fenced and the government should build good classrooms,” she said.

Four years

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She added, “In Kasses Primary School, almost six pupils between the age of seven and 14 have been killed in a span of four years.

“Children are innocent but bandits sometimes use them to inflict pain to parents.”

And headteacher at Lonyangalem Primary School, Hellen Kipkemboi said many children have been killed mostly during weekends while herding livestock. “In my school, four children have been killed in the same way since 2014. Kasses, Kour and Lonyangalem primary schools are most affected,” she said.

She pleaded with the government to set up boarding schools to shelter children from the bandits.

Songok Location chief Joseph Korkimul said they have lost 35 pupils due to cattle rustling since 2010.

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“Young innocent pupils have been caught up in banditry attacks. When they go to graze, they are abducted and killed elsewhere,” he said. He said the attackers usually target boys aged 10 to 18.

Masol Location chief Robert Loyotoman said the location has recorded numerous deaths over banditry attacks since 2010.

“This usually happens during weekends when parents go to the market and leave their children herding cattle. In some incidents, the raiders bury the boys alive - some are slaughtered as part of the bandits’ rituals,” he said.

Locals now want the government to beef up security along the border to reduce cattle rustling and banditry attacks.  

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InsecurityTribal ClashesCattle RaidsTurkanaWest PokotBandits