Bandits defy operation, unleash more terror

More than 10 people have been shot dead in the last three weeks by bandits.

Last weekend, two people including a teenager were shot dead in Elgeyo Marakwet.

On Sunday, Joseph Betaki was shot during an attack at Liter in Kerio Valley while schoolboy Evans Kiprono was killed in Kamologon on the Marakwet highlands the same day.

The late Betaki's mother had been shot dead by bandits in a 2018 attack, relatives said.

"My brother was shot dead. We have not even healed from the loss of my mother who was also shot dead in 2018. It is too much pain," the late Betaki's brother Zephaniah Betaki said.

Two herders were shot dead in Kaben location in the Kerio Valley mid-last month.

Two others were killed during an operation to recover livestock. The security swoop sparked outrage after locals demanded answers from the military and General Service Unit (GSU) officers over the killings.

Yesterday, locals said bandits had defied security measures put in place by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to restore normalcy in the banditry-hit region.

In July, Prof Kindiki warned political leaders and bandits hiding behind their communities to wreak havoc in six bandit-prone counties comprising West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, Samburu, and Laikipia among others.

The Interior CS was unveiling measures, including a proposed military camp along the Elgeyo Marakwet-West Pokot border and the construction of access roads that would give police officers easy access to bandits' hideouts.

Authorities in Elgeyo Marakwet said construction is still underway for Tangul-Kamologon, which leads to bandits' dens in forested areas along the Elgeyo Marakwet-West Pokot border.

At the same time, the CS declared a crackdown on political figures sponsoring anti-government protests.

Kindiki said the banditry menace in North Rift was not an inter-ethnic problem, but a challenge caused by a network of criminal elements established to terrorise innocent locals across the affected counties.

Locals living along the West Pokot-Elgeyo Marakwet border were enjoying relative calm during the CS's July visit.

"This is not an ethnic problem. Those hiding within their communities will be brought to book," said the CS.

He warned some political leaders he claimed were using the banditry issue to gain political mileage.

"I am now going for political leaders who are fanning insecurity problems in banditry-prone areas. If you are a leader aiding banditry by supplying guns and ammunition, know that we are coming for you," Kindiki warned.

Chiefs from the worst-hit areas said more than 10 people have been shot dead amidst the ongoing operation.