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They pointed a panga at me, widow recalls night of terror

By James Munyeki | February 11th 2017

For Mary Wanjira, the night of February 8, started well. The widow who lives alone at Miteta village, Laikipia west, prepared her supper and retired to bed just before 9 pm. But just before midnight, terror struck.

Armed men broke into her house and unleashed terror. “They pointed a sharp panga at me, they wanted to kill me. I saw many men surrounding my bed. They ordered me to show them where I had hidden my livestock, cash and other valuables,” she recalls.

Because she could not give them what they were demanding, they started beating her up.

“They used the butt of the gun that they were holding to beat me up on the head. I gave them what I had which was Sh850, but they wanted more,” she says.

The 65-year-old claims that at one point, they threatened to rape her but she screamed for help forcing them to dash for cover.

For a month, armed criminals have unleashed terror on several residents in Miteta village. They have torched houses, destroyed farms, beat up helpless victims and made away with livestock.

They broke into Nelson Wambugu’s shop and made away with goods worth more than Sh50,000. According to eye witnesses, the raiders who numbered about 15 were armed with guns, machetes and arrows.

“I could see them from my house. They were clad in shukas and were all armed with an assortment of weapons. They broke into my shop and stole everything,” recalls Wambugu.

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The last one month has seen hundreds of families vacate Miteta, Mirgwit, Mbogo Ini and Maua as the conflict escalates.

Githiga ward MCA Peter Thomi says those behind the mayhem are immigrants from the nearby Baringo, Samburu and Pokot counties, who came and started grazing their animals on private farms and triggered the conflict.

“If one resists that they graze on their land, they attack them at night and steal their animals,” says Thomi.

Ranchers and the police have not been spared either. Last week, the grazers burnt a tourist lodge run by Suiyan Ranch in Rumuruti.

Two police officers, among them Laikipia OCPD Mbelengo Mohare are recovering in hospital after being shot by the gang.

Laikipia Nature and Conservancy ranch owner Kuki Gallmann says most of the immigrants were hiding in her ranch where they have destroyed the forest cover.

“We have been calling on the Government to evict them but no action has been taken. They herders have destroyed acres of plantations within my ranch. They came through the Churo valley,” she  says.

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