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Journalists escape death by a whisker in Baringo County

COUNTIES
By Kiprotich Chepkoit | March 1st 2017
Journalists escape death by a whisker in Baringo County. (Photo: Courtesy)

The two men came out of the blue. One of them, who was wearing a torn white vest turned brown by dirt with a menacing look on his face, pointed an AK-47 rifle at me.

I immediately knew that we were doomed and whispered to the driver to stop the vehicle. Meanwhile, I kept an eye on the gun nozzle, waiting for it to spew death.

But a miracle happened. The man with the dirty vest took the gun from my face and went to the driver’s side. Then his unarmed companion rushed to my side and started peeping inside the car.

In the ensuing moment of terror and panic, my colleague Daniel Opondo, who was seated at the back with Joseph Kipsang made a brave move--he stretched his hand to greet the gun-wielder. The man looked back at the proffered hand and its owner with a sneer and blood shot eyes, forcing Opondo to raise his hands high in surrender.

By now the car engine had died down and there was pin drop silence as the two men continued to study our faces and car.

I suspect they could hear the terrified thud of our hearts. Whatever was going through our minds was written all over our faces.

“Have we been set up?” I asked myself silently.  I remembered a man on a motorbike had been following us from Kipcherere centre and even had a discussion among ourselves that he might have been monitoring our movement.

The unarmed man then ordered me to get out of the vehicle. Like a sheep being led to slaughter, I obliged. As I opened the car door, I decided to make a gamble. I greeted the man in Tugen. I knew this would either save us if they were Tugens or put us in trouble if they were Pokots.

“Toa ID,” the man responded to my greeting.

Kipsang quickly struggled to pull out his wallet. The driver dug straight into his pocket but Opondo just stared at Kipsang blankly. He is dicing with death, I told myself.

Luckily, the unarmed man saw our cameras and asked: “Nyinyi ni Press?” As if we were all waiting for the question, we sang in unison, “yes”. He then told his armed partner, “bisten” (leave them).

“We don’t trust anyone here. They have been killing us,” he informed us.

Then the gunman said almost to himself, “this bullet was yours” and removed his finger from the trigger.

But unbeknown to us we were not yet free. They lured us into yet another trap. At River Somisbei, there were tens of them waiting. Here, we were all forced out of the vehicle.

Our effects were inspected to ensure they were not weapons. They then questioned me to prove that I was one of them to save our lives.

After about 45 minutes of agony, we were allowed to proceed with our journey, but only after digging into our pockets, this time for cash.

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