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Baptism by fire for new police recruit in deadly attack

By By Ally Jamah | November 13th 2012

By Ally Jamah

He had always dreamt of entering the police force regardless of the frightening tales about officers he had heard before.

What he did not know, however, was that two weeks after entering the force, he would literally have to go through baptism by fire following a deadly ambush by fierce cattle rustlers in his first major operation, two days ago.

As he narrates his ordeal from a hospital bed, he winces in pain resulting from his spinal cord injury. He recalls that on the fateful day, police trucks, laden with about 150 officers and reservists were struggling to navigate the treacherous and desolate stretch of Suguta Valley as they pursued thousands of livestock stolen by Turkana rustlers.


They were suddenly frozen on their tracks by an unrelenting shower of bullets from the surrounding hills.

“We had seen the stolen livestock ahead of us at the bottom of the valley, but when we approached them, we were attacked from all directions from the top of the hills surrounding the valley,” said the officer who refused to reveal his identity, saying he is not authorised to speak to the Press.

It appears that the livestock were “bait” by the rustlers to lure the officers into their deadly trap.

“The last thing we thought of was an ambush from the well-armed rustlers. We were totally caught off guard. Our command structure just fell apart and every officer was on their own struggling to save their lives,” he recalls.

“We were trapped at the bottom of the valley and it was impossible to get out due to the gunfire and the terrain. Many officers were killed even before they could fire back. The rest of us dashed for cover in different parts of the valley,” he says.

He says the rustlers who seemed well organised and prepared for a long fight with the security forces overwhelmingly outnumbered the police.

take cover

 “At one point, as I rushed to take cover to escape the bullets, I fell into a deep hole. I must have become unconscious after that since when I woke up, I found myself at Wilson Airport in Nairobi” he said.

“I would not have fired back since I would be shot from  different directions. Things were impossible. We didn’t know where to start,” he said as he winced in pain

The firefight went on from mid-morning till late afternoon when the sweltering heat in the valley added to the misery of the police officers, many of whom were not used to it.

“Worse still, we could not communicate since there was no network inside the valley,” he says.

Luckily, his spinal injury was not severe and Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital have assured him that he would not be paralysed as he had initially feared.

For police reservist Lekiranyei Moshene, he has faced heavily-armed and skilled cattle rustlers before in his 17 year-old career but he describes the latest attack as the worst.

He, however,  says their weapons were not insufficient in fighting off their determined attackers, saying that they were put on the back foot because of the element of surprise which left their fighting formation in total disarray

 He suffered severe bullet wounds on his nose and lower stomach but by yesterday his condition was relatively stable.

saved lives

“Thank God that more people could have lost their lives were it not for the reservists who know the terrain well. They were able to maneuver their way out of the deadly trap,” he says. He says the solar heat in the desolate valley made things worse as the police officers not only struggled against bullets from rustlers but also biting thirst and hunger. 

Police reservist Damanion Lenangtlai, whose shoulder and legs were pierced with bullets says that some of the attackers must have come from Southern Sudan judging from the language they spoke.

“I heard them shouting at each other and I could tell that they were not Turkana. I understand Turkana very well. Some of the attackers were definitely Turkanas but others were from across the border,” he said.

Yesterday, another critically injured police officer was admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital to join nine of his bullet-scarred colleagues still nursing their heavy wounds in the same facility.































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