Clashes escalate in Narok South as five people killed

By Stephen Mkawale and Robert Kiplangat | Tuesday, Sep 11th 2018 at 10:05
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Armed locals at Ololoipang'i area in Narok South. A 13-year old is the latest to be killed and two others in a Sunday night attack. [Robert Kiplagat/Standard]

The escalating violence in Narok South constituency has left five people dead.

Yesterday, a 12-year-old boy became the latest victim of the violence that has rocked the constituency in the past one week.

The violence was reignited at the weekend when armed attackers descended on a village in the dead of night.

Villagers said a Standard Six girl and her grandmother were seriously injured in the Sunday night attack.

Esther Maina, who had serious injuries, was staying with three children left under her care two years ago when their mother died.

Tension has been high in the area since the Government started the Maasai Mau Forest evictions, but recent cattle rustling incidents have compounded the situation.

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai called for the arrest of people he claimed were inciting violence along the border with Bomet County.

Mr Tunai, who spoke in Narok town, condemned the violence and appealed for calm as security agencies worked to restore order in the affected areas.

“I am calling for restraint from both sides. Let us stop taking the law into our own hands and continue living in peace,” the governor said.

MPs Korei Lemein (Narok South), Gabriel Tong’oyo (Narok West) and Narok East’s Lemanken Arama, who had accompanied Tunai, blamed the violence on leaders from neighbouring counties.

“It’s unfortunate that some leaders from neighbouring counties have been frequenting the forest and inciting locals who have been living together harmoniously,” said Mr Lemein.

County Commissioner George Natembeya said: “The latest incident happened around 10pm Sunday. We received information that an elderly woman who was living with her two grandchildren, a 12 year-old-boy and a nine-year-old girl, had been attacked by unknown people with an axe.”

The attacks started on September 6 after a herder was killed and his 76 goats stolen at Nkoben.

Two people were later killed in retaliatory attacks the following night and a day later, the body of a man was found at Oloishoisho village. It was pierced with arrows.

So far, 13 people are nursing arrow injuries at the Narok County Hospital.

A day before, the county security team held peace meetings between the two communities but the latest incident has dealt a blow to efforts to restore order.

About 60 houses and grain stores have been torched and nine schools closed during the four-day clashes.

Mr Natembeya blamed the clashes on politicians, whom he said were inciting residents. He added that the leaders were under investigation.

The administrator said there was a perception that the violence had been sparked by people who were against the Government’s efforts to reclaim the Maasai Mau Forest. He said the Government would continue to evict illegal settlers from the forest.

“Politicians should stop inciting people to violence. We are investigating several of them and if we find sufficient evidence, they will be held to account,” said Natembeya.

Former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto and Chepalungu MP Gideon Koskei condemned the attacks and appealed to the Government to take action against the perpetrators.

Security agencies

“We are asking the security agencies to stop the escalation of the clashes. We want action taken against the perpetrators,” said Mr Ruto, who was accompanied by seven MCAs from Bomet.

The former county boss said the people who attacked the family on Sunday night were not cattle rustlers but criminals who should be dealt with in accordance with the law.

He said he was shocked that the Ministry of Education had not indicated how it would address the plight of candidates in more than 30 schools in the affected area.

The leaders accused some politicians from Narok County of issuing inflammatory statements, saying this might have fuelled the conflict.

“The Government has failed to quell the clashes and the underlying factors have not been addressed, including the ongoing eviction of families from Mau Forest,” Mr Koskei said.

Natembeya downplay “purely criminal act” that was being investigated.

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