Tot High School students' attack callous, irresponsible, police say

Spokesperson of Kenya’s National Police Service Bruno Shioso. [File, Standard]

Police have described the Thursday night attack on school-bound students in Keriyo Valley, Elgeyo Marakwet County as “callous and irresponsible”.

Police spokesperson Bruno Shioso, in a press statement on Friday, February 18, said the bandits targeted innocent passengers, who are harmless.

“The attack was callous, irresponsible and cowardly. Targeting innocent passengers, especially school children, is unacceptable and the National Police Service shall continue to deploy all resources and strategies at its disposal to arrest all acts of criminality targeting innocent citizens,” said Shioso.

“Currently, a Multi-Agency Security Operation Team is pursuing the bandits,” added the police spokesperson.

Just like Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, the Police Service also put blame on Tot High School principal for allowing the school bus to operate past 6pm, which is unacceptable as per government rules.

“This unfortunate attack could have been avoided if the school administration had exercised caution and complied with existing Ministry of Education policy on school transport beyond 6pm. National Police Service is therefore investigating the incident with a view of holding the school administration responsible for their complicity in the attack,” said Shioso.

A driver, two teachers and 13 students of Tot High School were attacked on the Arror-Mogil road at Kerio Valley, Elgeyo Marakwet County at 10:30pm on Thursday, February 17.

Matiang’i, while speaking at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete earlier Friday, said he has ordered the arrest and prosecution of Tot High School principal.

“There is a government policy restricting travel of school buses beyond 6:30pm. In the Tot incident, the school administrators were in clear violation of the stipulated policy,” Matiang’i said.

“The fact that the area of the incident is prone to bandit attacks should have informed more caution by the school administration,” he added.

Police said the bandits indiscriminately sprayed bullets at the victims, killing one and injuring 15 others.

“On 17th February, 2022 at about 10pm, three school buses with students from Tot Secondary School were on their way back to school from a field trip when they were ambushed between Arror and Tot by armed bandits,” police said in a statement.

“The bandits indiscriminately sprayed bullets at the buses injuring 15 passengers; 13 students and two teachers. Eight of the injured students were treated and discharged and are out of danger. One student is admitted at Chesongoch Health Centre while two teachers and four students were referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. One of the drivers in the convoy succumbed injuries.

“In the same light, the Inspector-General directs all police commands within the country to fully enforce the Ministry of Education policy on the school transport during night time. Those flouting the rules shall be arrested and prosecuted accordingly. The National Police Service condoles with the family of the deceased and wishes quick recovery to the injured.”

Education CS George Magoha, who was present at the Kenya School of Government, asked school heads to direct school buses to nearby police stations should 6:30pm find learners in transit.

“Our children’s safety is the government’s number one priority,” he said.