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Five killed as bandit raids displace dozens

By Julius Chepkwony | Mar 7th 2022 | 3 min read

Young herders fleeing Mochongoi, Baringo south. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A lone dog barks perhaps to scare us away as we approach a deserted home in Sinoni village in Mochongoi, Baringo County.

The dog with her two puppies is a sign that someone lived in the home but has since left. The doors to the house were wide open and few belongings scattered inside and outside, a clear indication that the owner(s) must have left in a hurry.

There’s an eerie silence as men armed with bows and arrows patrol the area. Women, children and the elderly are nowhere to be seen except for a few accompanied by men to pick their belongings.

Locals have fled the area to seek refuge some 15 kilometres away.

Nelson Chebon, who emerged from a nearby bush where he had taken cover, said his brother lived in the house but left on Friday after a bandit attack in which over 270 goats were stolen.

Chebon said his brother had asked him to go check on the few belongings he had left. In 2017, the family lost two brothers in after bandits struck, says the young man.

A spot check by The Standard revealed that about 11 villages in Kasiela sub-location have been abandoned following banditry attacks. At least five people have been killed since Friday.

Armed with bows and arrows, Cheserem Rendile also emerges from a thicket. He said bandits struck on Friday and drove away his brother’s goats. He is not sure of his brother’s whereabouts as his mobile phone is off.

“We have been looking for my brother for three days now. His eight-year-old son saw him being captured as the bandits made away with the goats they were herding on Friday afternoon,” said Rendile.

Asked why he was risking his life to look for his brother, Rendile says matter-of-factly that blood is thicker than water. He hopes to find his brother Thomas Kimwochok Chesang dead or alive.

“I cannot let my brother disappear. It is better I see his body or have his bones than let his spirit torment us,” he said.

Police officers on patrol along Mochongoi - Marigat Road, Baringo south. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Jackson Kipkulei, a watchman at Sinoni primary said the bandits have been roaming freely, especially at night.

He said the bandits on Saturday night raided the school which was home to 48 households that had relocated earlier in the day.

“Am not ready to risk my life. I have told the headteacher that I will leave,” he said. Benjamin Kiptoo, a Parent Teachers Association member at the school said they feel the government is overwhelmed by the insecurity in the region. 

“We have lost livestock and none has been recovered,” Kiptoo said.

He said there are no patrols in the area despite the government promising them of the same. A Rapid Deployment Unit camp is situated just five kilometres from Sinoni Centre but the residents are still not safe. 

Kiptoo is worried that learners might not sit for their national examinations starting today. There are fears that some students will miss the tests as some cannot be traced.

At least 185 candidates from various primary schools in the area are scheduled to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination in different centres.  Authorities said the candidates will be accommodated in the new examination centres until they are done with their tests.

Last week, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mohamed Maalim assured residents that adequate security had been put in place and police will be deployed to man examination centres.

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