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Families rendered homeless after houses torched in land row

Rift Valley

Several families were rendered homeless after their houses were set on fire over a protracted land dispute in West Pokot County.

Tension is high at Tambalal village in Kamatira, Kipkpmo sub-county, where two parties have been embroiled in a 100-acre land dispute that has been running for about 48 years.

Property worth millions of shillings was destroyed following the arson attack on Friday forcing residents to spend the night in the cold.

Locals said the arson attack, allegedly perpetrated by hired goons, targeted families embroiled in the land dispute.

Residents who claim the land is their ancestral property were forced to flee after armed goons descended on their homes.

Some victims have been forced to camp in bushes while others have sought refuge at relatives homes.

The about 16 affected families have urged the county and national governments to urgently intervene and provide humanitarian aid.

Faith Chepkemoi recounted the horrifying events saying "maize and beans harvests, certificates, solar equipment, furniture, iron sheets, and Sh100,000 for my Kenya Medical Training College (MTC) fees, were destroyed during the arson attack."

Chepkemoi said armed goons forcefully evicted them from their homes.

Poo Chepchumba lamented over the turn of events. "We have lost everything. Where is the government? We have not even seen the area chief, we have nothing to eat," she said.

The situation sparked outrage with residents demanding accountability from local leaders and assistance with food, shelter and medical supplies.

Martha Kennedy, a resident, warned of escalating tension saying there was a need for immediate intervention to prevent bloodshed.

Churia Lolima called for a thorough investigation into the incident, as the case remains unresolved in court.

Pamela Chepkamkipka expressed fear that schools, churches and children in boarding schools could be the next target and urged government officials to address the plight of widows, orphans and the elderly.

Kipkomo sub-county Police Commander, Adano Abukula, confirmed that 13 families involved in the land dispute had lost a legal battle and were slated for eviction.

He said investigations have been launched into the arson attack and revealed that five individuals from the warring parties were jailed over failure to pay Sh 2.2 million for damages.

"Most likely those who won are the ones who sent the goons to evict those still occupying the disputed land,” said Adano.

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