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Baragoi operation was 'ill-advised and officers were outnumbered'

By Patrick Kibet | Jun 21st 2016 | 2 min read

The ill-fated Baragoi operation, which led to death of 42 police officers, was executed against the advice of the local police command.

Former Baragoi Officer Commanding Station Robert Owino told the High Court that 'Operation Rudisha Ngombe' was ill-executed as officers were outnumbered by bandits who were well armed and prepared to face the law enforcers.

Chief Inspector Owino told the court that on the fateful day he was in-charge of a platoon which was on standby to guard police lorries as officers ventured into the dreaded Lomelo hills on foot.

Owino was testifying before Justice Maureen Odero in a case in which Nachola MCA Lawrence Lolunjei, Christopher Lokarach, Amojong Lothuro, Jeremiah Ekurao, Loomwa Looyen, Ekai Loyee and Ewoi Losike are accused of killing 12 police officers.

Owino told the court that a majority of the officers especially those from Administration Police were too "green" for the terrain and had not undergone proper paramilitary training.

"This operation was ill-conceived and was ill-executed. There were basics that we lacked. For instance, we had inexperienced officers who had just graduated from AP Training College," he said.

Some injured officers were able to walk back to the area where they had stationed the police vehicles, while others died in the battlefield.

"From far I could see scores of my colleagues coming down the terrain with bloodied jungle fatigues and gunshot wounds. We immediately organised the vehicles to take the injured officers to Baragoi Sub-District Hospital for treatment," Owino told the court.

He said by the end of the operation, the General Service Unit lost three officers, Kenya Police and Anti-Stock Theft Unit lost four officers each, while the Administration Police lost 18 officers and the rest were Kenya Police Reservists.

Two officers who were part of the 106 officers involved in the operation are still missing.

During the hearing, it emerged that the provincial command led by the then head of operations Willy Lugusa pushed for the operation to recover the stolen cattle despite opposition from the District Security Intelligence Committee.

In his testimony, Owino told the court that several Samburu morans were brutally killed when they attempted to raid the Turkana Manyattas prior to the security operation on November 10, 2012.

He told the court that in his four-year stay in Baragoi, there were areas security officers could not venture into without permission from local leaders.

He further told the court that he had no reason to suspect the involvement of the seven accused persons in the brutal killing of the security officers.

Three more witnesses including a ballistics expert, a doctor and an investigating officer are set to testify when the case resumes on September 3.

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