20 guns returned, but bandits yet to be arrested

Police officers deployed to flash out bandits in Arabal location in Baringo south patrolling at Kasiela village on December 28,2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A security operation in North Rift has led to the recovery of 20 illegal firearms.

The Rift Valley Commissioner Abdi Hassan yesterday said 100 people have been arrested for flouting the dawn-to-dusk curfew.

The guns were surrendered in Samburu and Turkana counties. No firearm has been recovered in Baringo.

Last Monday, President William Ruto issued a three-day ultimatum to illegal gun holders in the region following an increase of armed attacks.

Hassan also said only two suspected bandits have been arrested since the operation begun last week.

Police Spokesperson Resila Onyango said the two were arrested on Tuesday at River Turkwel, where an AK-47 firearm loaded with 29 rounds of ammunition was recovered.

The administrator said they were engaging elders and local leaders to appeal to locals to surrender illegal guns.

The deployment of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) to help the National police Service restore peace in the region has been welcomed by some locals.

Richard Chepchomei, a resident of Baringo North, said a proper operation would help tame the perennial banditry.

“My prayer is that the President does not relent and should remain focused and avoid politicians who interfere with security operations. We need full disarmament, and no community should be spared,” he said.

He asked locals to support the security agencies in providing intelligence on the bandits.

Pokot Council of Elders chairman, Christopher Chochoi, urged the government to employ diplomacy and engage community leaders, saying this would make residents to readily provide details of who the bandits are and where they come from.

Instead of conducting an operation in the entire Tiaty, Chochoi stated that security agencies should map out areas that bandits hide.

He noted that operation was yet to be felt in Tiaty, adding that a convoy of vehicles with security officers heading towards Kapedo had been spotted.

The dawn-to-dusk curfew, he said, has affected businesses in Chemolingot town, forcing traders to shut their shops early.

“I don’t see why the operation is being done within towns. It should be conducted in the bush where criminals reside instead of punishing a community for a crime committed by a few people who can be fished out,” he said.

“We have been supporting the government in providing information and conducting peace meetings, but the operation affects even us who have tried to put ourselves in the frontline in fighting this menace.”

The elder, however, supports the deployment of KDF, saying they will help the community by administering medication and providing other necessary services.

Tiaty MP William Kamket on Monday supported the disarmament exercise and called upon all the communities in possession of illegal firearms to surrender them to security agencies.

“Any bandit from Tugen, Marakwet, Samburu, Turkana or Pokot should surrender illegal firearms. Criminals have no tribe,” said Kamket during a CDF meeting at Kinyang.

The MP, however, said the operation should also bring development to the area, citing opening up of roads, schools, hospitals and provision of more water.

“We welcome KDF personnel to come with machines to drill water and open up roads so that pastoralists who have been shifting due to drought will get water and pasture for their livestock.”