Three people shot dead after confrontation with KDF soldiers

Tension remains high after two people were allegedly shot dead by KDF soldiers in Turbo Sub County. [Patrick Kibet, Standard]

It was a dark Christmas Day in Kiplombe, Turbo in Uasin Gishu after a confrontation between locals and KDF soldiers left three people dead and a minor nursing bullet injury.

The locals allege armed Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers on Saturday morning gained entry to Chebarus primary school, where they started to erect beacons on a section of a disputed parcel of land.

The angry locals decided to confront the officers after they declined to respond to their queries, a move which turned deadly as more residents thronged the scene.


During the melee as the soldiers fled out of the school, it is alleged they lobbed a tear-gas canister and shot live bullets which hit four people, leaving two dead on the spot.

Speaking to The Standard, Sammy Birech, one of the local residents said the parcel of land Kiplombe 9 has been marred by disputes between the locals and KDF for years with the matter pending in court since 2019.

Birech said the Environment and Lands Court in Eldoret had issued orders stopping KDF from demarcating the land pending the hearing of the dispute.

“We moved to court in 2019 and the case has been awaiting a hearing. We have submitted documents and NLC also made a request to file documents,” Birech said.

According to him, the action by KDF offended the locals who sought an explanation but none was forthcoming from the soldiers.

“We were shocked when the soldiers came on Christmas Day without even seeking permission from the headteacher. The locals responded and confronted them but unfortunately it turned deadly,” he said.

Birech said the land has been marred by a long tussle from 1978 when KDF first appeared in the area and efforts by the locals to seek help from the government has failed to resolve the dispute.

“In 1999, late President Daniel Moi directed that the locals be issued with title deeds. The then DC asked the residents to confirm their details. In 2000, the locals were directed to live in the farm. However, the government has failed to honour the directives,” Birech said.

In 2018, the National Lands Commission heard the case following complaints from KDF and ruled that the land belonged to KDF.

Residents of Turbo Sub-County gather in groups after two people were allegedly shot dead by KDF soldiers following a land dispute. [Patrick Kibet, Standard]

This NLC decision forced the locals to move to Lands Court in Eldoret which issued interim orders stopping KDF from taking over the farms.

“We are asking if KDF is aware of the court cases, why are they ignoring the court order? Why did they force their way to the school without notifying the local administrators? This is akin to robbery,” he posed.

Julius Kitur, a local leader questioned the decision by the officers to force entry to the primary school while they were having their Christmas celebrations.

“The community moved to court, which issued orders stopping the KDF from exercising the land pending the determination of the court case. We are asking them why they decided to ignore the court order,” Kitur posed.

He added, “Today we are crying on a Christmas Day. These tears will go for nothing. If they want to arrest us let them come and arrest all of us. Why are they killing young people because of their rights?”

For several hours, the bodies of the two people were left lying beside the road as tension continued building in the area.

Turbo MP Janet Sitienei, who encountered hostile reception, pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in the matter, saying the case filed by the residents was in court awaiting determination.

Uasin Gishu County commander Ayub Ali Gitonga said the soldiers were surveying the land being occupied by locals after they had agreed in a peaceful exercise conducted the day before.

Gitonga said a group of people incited the locals which attracted tens of residents, forcing the soldiers to lob teargas and shoot to scare the residents, which unfortunately turned tragic.

He said he had directed the Turbo OCPD and security team to respond and investigate the incident.