Where is Government? Residents of Busia, Bungoma ask over terror gangs

By Francis Ontomwa and Renson Buluma

Busia, Kenya: Residents of three villages in Busia County are still stunned by the chilling and bloodletting attack visited on them by a heavily-armed gang on Tuesday night.

The gang, which killed three people and left many others with injuries, appeared to be part of a large group of organised criminals that are terrorising villages in Western region.

A group of between 15 to 30 men, armed with crude weapons, hit three villages in Teso South on Tuesday night and carried out a vicious attack that lasted for close to two hours.

The gang attacked the villages of Akubwait, Bengo market and Segero and as people woke up Wednesday, everyone narrated of their ordeals cast in different locations laden with similar tales.

Where next?

By the time they left, three people were lying dead and tens of others, who are admitted at the Busia District Hospital, seriously injured.

The intricate crime puzzle has astounded many across the region, as it remains unknown which village will be soaked in blood next.

Even the police, who should have dealt with the situation, appear to have been caught ‘unawares’.

After a scary execution of an even bigger attack on three villages in Bungoma last week, the gangs have now visited Busia, Teso South constituency in particular.

The killings in the two counties raises questions on the state of security in the region.

In Busia, villagers told of a chilling midnight experience whose destructions and magnitude stands as one of the biggest to ever hit the areas in the recent past.

Police in control

A heavy contingent of security personnel took control of the villages Wednesday with shock, fear and despair manifest all over.

Western Police boss James ole Serian and regional police boss Alfred Ombaba led the team of law enforcers who had a busy day piecing together the mind-boggling events.

“It is very sad thugs can conspire to do his this kind of thing. We have increased our patrols and we shall get to the bottom of this,” said Serian.

At Busia District Hospital, survivors of the heinous crime recounted the heart-wrenching experience with some still lost in reverie over the experience.

When The Standard visited the hospital, nurses could be seen dressing fresh wounds of the victims.

“Police brought 22 people who suffered various levels of injuries and unfortunately one died shortly after admission,” said the hospital administrator Ali Atemba.

‘Gang from around’

He added that most of the victims sustained serious injuries on their heads, an indication they were cut with a sharp object.

The gang swept through more than ten homesteads in the villages in what looks like an organised syndicate that successfully accomplished its mission, buoyed by knowledge police were miles away.

“We have listened to what villagers have to say and our investigation indicates there could be some members of this gang from around,” said Ombaba.

According to homesteads that suffered the troubles and visited by The Standard, the gang came calling names of members of the homesteads and once they responded positively, they romped in and attacked whomever they found in.

Evidence gathered indicates the gangs have a network, which is well reinforced by people who understand the villages.

Further, when hell broke loose and screams were all over, the gang joined in the game and where heard screaming, too, to appear like rescuers but, when neighbours ‘joined’ them, they turned on them.

Imitating voices

This was the trick at the home of Mzee Linus Otolim, who meet his death in the process. His 14-year-old son, Jonah, who saw it all, said the terror gang knocked at his older brother Duncan’s house and when he refused to respond positively they broke into his house and flushed him but, luckily, he escaped.

“They moved into the main house and called father, mimicking the voice of Duncan, and when he came out, they killed him,” recalls young Jonah, a pupil at nearby Akubwait Primary. “As they killed daddy, my mother screamed for help.”

Stephen Owire, a businessman at Akubwait trading centre and recuperating at Busia hospital was attacked at around 12am and his experience was chilling.

“I heard footsteps towards my house and when I peeped through the window I saw a group of five people who lit a torch, they were armed with machetes and immediately they started breaking into my house,” narrates Owire, 33, who suffered deep cuts in his head.

Security let-down?

“They ordered that I give them all my day’s collections, an order I quickly complied to. One of them pulled out an axe and hit my head, saying that was my last day on earth. I fell down and went into coma,” he added. Owire was alone at home at the time.

Pastor Wilson Echoli of Baptist Convention of Kenya said poor road networks in the region was their biggest let-down as law enforcers had a difficult time accessing the area.