Ann Nakienyi, a resident of Nasuroi village in Isiolo is a worried mother.
She hasn’t seen her son, a Standard Eight pupil, for the last five days. All she is praying for now is that he is safe wherever he is and that they will soon reunite.
Nakienyi, 53, a mother of six, woke up on Tuesday morning, just like she always does to prepare breakfast for her son before he went to school.
Hours after her son had left for Manyatta Zebra Primary School, about three kilometres away from their home, police in a convoy, descended on the village.
The mission of the multi-agency police team was to gather information from locals on the whereabouts of bandits who attacked and injured 12 officers in Igembe North, Meru County, two weeks ago.
- 1 Unfriendly fire: When angry cops shoot hungry cops
- 2 Police ready to arrest rivals eyeing their national crown
- 3 How Covid-19 has changed how we live
- 4 Woman held as officers probe husband’s death
The bandits were also accused of killing a man and injuring two others and stealing about 300 heads of cattle.
According to Nakienyi, the police roughed up locals demanding information on the whereabouts of the bandits.
“We heard about the attack the police wanted information on but we do not know who the bandits are,” Nakienyi told the Sunday Standard.
Since the Tuesday incident, she said they spent sleepless nights not knowing what will happen next.
The village elders, she added, sought shelter away from the village for fear that the police would be back to attack them.
She also claimed to have lost Sh180,000 that she kept in her hut being the treasurer of the local women’s table banking group during the police operation.
The villagers are now seeking refuge at Ngaremara Catholic parish, about seven kilometres away from the village.
“I reluctantly followed others since I didn’t want to leave my son behind but I had to,” she said.
Her testimony reflects that of hundreds of other villagers currently camping at the church. Other villages affected include Kiwanja, Attan, Kiwanja and Chumvi Yaree.
This is not the first time security agencies have accused villagers in the region of harbouring cattle rustlers.
A herder was killed at Makinya in Igembe North on November 12 and nine police officers injured in an ambush the following day.
Local activists Joseph Eskuku, Augustino Elimlim and Francis Eris, told the Sunday Standard that other villagers, anticipating the operation, had fled to as far as centres in Laikipia North, Samburu East, Isiolo South and Isiolo town.
“Nearly the whole of Ngaremara ward is deserted. Families have separated,” said Eskuku.
Learning for Standard Eight and Grade Four pupils had also been disrupted since Tuesday when the policed raided the villages.
Former Isiolo North MP Joseph Samal called for civility in dealing with the matter. He faulted the brutal manner in which the police are carrying out investigations.
“Forget the ongoing boundary dispute between Isiolo and Meru and focus on the matter at hand. Politicians are to blame for the divisions between Meru and people of Turkana,” he claimed.
Isiolo Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa called on the county security committee led by Commissioner Herman Shambi and Police Commander Joseph Kigen not to violate residents’ rights during the operations.
“The State has intelligence and chiefs on the ground and have names of the suspects. It’s bordering on human rights abuses to force innocent villagers to give information,” said Jaldesa.