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Women and children bear the brunt of deadly Baringo revenge attack

By Patrick Kibet | March 16th 2017
An injured girl is assisted by Red cross official at Marigat sub-county hospital in Baringo county. (Photo: Kipsang Joseph/Standard)

The killing of 11 people in a wave of retaliatory attacks in Baringo County has raised fear that insecurity in the area has got out of hand.

The fresh attack on Tuesday evening left nine people, including two minors, nursing serious injuries after bandits raided the Ilchamus community. Among the dead were four children and five women.

During the 5pm attack, suspected Pokot bandits besieged villagers in Mukutani location and sprayed them with bullets.

Emotions ran high Wednesday morning as the two young children and one adult were received at Marigat Sub-County Hospital following the attack.

The minors, who were visibly in pain when they were received at the hospital, were holed up at Mukutani Primary School for more than 12 hours awaiting evacuation by Kenya Red Cross officials.

Reports indicate that the heavily armed bandits attacked a convoy led by Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi and Regional Co-ordinator Wanyama Musiambo that had gone to evacuate the children.

According to Lagat Chirchir, a clinical officer at the hospital, the two children and the adult were stabilised before being referred to St Mary's Hospital in Gilgil. Others were taken to Kabarnet County Hospital.

According to Red Cross official Anwar Saidi, tension in Mukutani and Kiserian was high following the attack, with  hundreds of residents fleeing the area.

A statement by the Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said the attacks were triggered by cattle thefts blamed on llchamus attackers who killed two women inside a police vehicle in Mosuro.

Following the killings, the Pokot retaliated, killing 11 people - seven women and four children.

"We responded with our team of paramedics and managed to stabilise the casualties on site. All had taken cover in one of the dormitories at Mukutani Primary and Boarding School," Mr Gullet said.

According to Gullet, the children bore the brunt of the attack.

"One of the children had severe head injuries and another was hit in the stomach by two bullets. The other child was hit in the buttocks while the adult was shot in the stomach," he said.

In Kiserian, armed Kenya Police Reservists clutched new G-3 rifles as they pensively watched residents conduct their activities.

"We fear these attacks could drive us out of the area if the Government does not act decisively. Our neighbours have been pushing us out daily, leaving many dead and property destroyed," one reservist remarked.

Ilchamus spokesman Amos ole Mpaka said the attack had affected mostly women and children, and had been expected.

"We had given police intelligence about the impending attack after two earlier incidents. We thought they were in charge of the situation as they had assured us, only for us to be caught up in the deadly attack," said Mr Mpaka.

He said despite an ongoing security operation in Baringo, the bandits still managed to raid the area.

"We are blaming the police for taking long to respond. We fail to understand how the attacks have been carried out in a security operation area. The injured were left for several hours without help," he said.

Residents in Mukutani, Kiserian and surrounding areas are now living in fear with hundreds, mainly women and children, leaving the area for safer ground.

"The only solution to these perennial attacks is full disarmament of our Pokot neighbours, who have caused havoc in the county. We wonder why it is taking the Government ages to end this," said Stephen Lekarakoi, a resident of Kiserian.

Mr Lekarakoi said despite assurances from Deputy President William Ruto, the attacks had persisted.

In Kiserian, tension remained high for the better part of the day as armed police officers moved bodies.

"We have had sustained attacks in the area for several months. We have had police officers and they failed to take charge," said Tyon ole Kichep, a resident.

Mr Kichep claimed residents first sought refuge at an Administration Police camp in Mukutani but the officers directed them to Mukutani Primary School.

Area MCA Renson Parkei blamed the Government's delayed response after the bandits laid siege in Mukutani on Tuesday evening.

Seniors police officers in the county remained tight-lipped over the incident as armed security personnel made their way to the troubled area to collect bodies.

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