VIOLENCE WORSENS

Bandits ambush cops in Kapedo, chopper and APC hit

Traditional leaders administer oaths and send killers out to shed blood, says Matiang'i.

In Summary

• On Sunday a senior GSU officer was murdered, massive security operation launched to wipe out bandits and politically instigated criminals. Fighting has been ongoing.

• The military has been deployed to flush out bandits and criminals. Chopper damaged, APC burnt.

Kenya Red Cross officials take a victim of the attack in the volatile Kapedo on the border of Baringo and Turkana to hospital on January 15.
KAPEDO KILLINGS: Kenya Red Cross officials take a victim of the attack in the volatile Kapedo on the border of Baringo and Turkana to hospital on January 15.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Killers in Kapedo on the Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana border are fired up by traditional leaders and administered oaths before they set out to shed blood.

That's what Interior CS Fred Matiang'i said on Thursday about escalating violence that military and security forces have been sent to quell.

Matiang’i said an ambush took place after a ritual ceremony in which organised bandits were fired up and inspired by traditional leaders in a cultural oathing ceremony.

He said Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai had launched an unprecedented operation in the area.

"We will not relent until all the perpetrators, including elders who administered the oath and sent off the killers are surrendered and brought to justice," Matiang'i said.

Kapedo has become a killing zone, despite reinforcements to flush out murderous bandits and politically instigated criminals.

Security forces and bandits-criminals have clashed since Tuesday when an armoured personnel carrier (APC) was burnt by gunmen in an ambush in Kasarani area, Kapedo, Turkana county.

Three GSU officers were injured in the clash before they were rescued.

Trouble, which has been ongoing for years, got worse when bandits killed a GSU superintendent who had been distributing relief food and monitoring the situation on Sunday afternoon.

Reinforcements were sent in.

The gang shot and damaged a chopper that had been flown to rescue the officers.

Officials said the personnel were patrolling when they were ambushed, prompting a fierce shootout. The APC got stuck and was burnt.

About six hours after the ambush, six bodies with execution-style gunshot wounds to the head were discovered in the Arabal area.

It was not clear what role, if any, they played in the violence.

Five of them were identified as Paul Kosgei, Nelson Kordado, Brian Silale, David Kukatand Kanga Siareng.

Matiang’i condemned all the violence and what he termed a "premeditated, cold-blooded, heinous attack on our security personnel who were on a routine security mission in Kapedo."

“This operation will be extensive and sustained as we meticulously comb through every nook and cranny until we find the last criminal,” he said.

The CS said the region has claimed the lives of security officers and wananchi.

“It is extremely unfortunate that extraordinary efforts to find a lasting solution to the security challenges and breakdowns in peace between the Pokot and Turkana communities continue to face serious resistance from leaders. They have been patronising the deadly attacks in pursuit of criminal and selfish interests," Matiang'i said.

He appealed to residents to work closely with security officers to change mindsets in the area and decisively end the escalating attacks.

“We appeal to the public to help bring this to a close and return to normalcy," he said.

A section of leaders from Baringo and West Pokot are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to deescalate the security operation in Kapedo.

Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio and Tiaty MP William Kamket faulted the security officials for applying excessive force and said it should be deescalated.

They called the state operation inhumane and must be stopped to save lives.

They said a dispute over where Kapedo lies, poverty and lack of basic necessities are fuelling the intercommunal clashes.

(Edited by V. Graham)