•They spoke as thousands fled 37 locations identified as bandit hideouts for bandits. Kindiki says people remaining will be considered terrorists, outlaws, accomplices.
• Kindiki called for evacuation as the government deals ruthlessly with bandits blamed for killing 135 civilians and 20 police officers in seven months.
Political leaders from Elgeyo Marakwet county have supported the decision by Interior CS Kithure Kindiki to upscale the KDF-backed security operation in six disturbed counties.
They spoke as thousands of people fled from 37 locations identified as hideouts for bandits. Kindiki said those who don't leave will be considered terrorists, outlaws and accomplices.
Kindiki said bandits were responsible for killing 135 civilians and 20 police officers in seven months.
The second phase of the operation stated on Tuesday.
Abomination to kill helpless
Cheserek said since time immemorial it has been an abomination to kill a woman or a child in the Kalenjin community but the bandits were now killing everyone to clear the area for themselves
Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Professor Grace Cheserek headed the leaders who included MCAs in condemning the continued killings.
The leaders and CS are linking banditry to schemes to extend county boundaries.
They said the attacks mostly occur along borders of affected counties in Kerio Valley. They called the violence part of territorial expansion efforts by members of one community.
“The killings are well calculated. They are driving an agenda. They are on a clear mission of extending their territory towards Elgeyo Marakwet,” Professor
The bandits killed two county staff members last week, raising the death toll by suspected Tiaty bandits to about 20 in Endo and Arror wards alone since the beginning of the year.
Cheserek said women in the volatile Kerio Valley have nothing to celebrate especially during this month when women are globally recognised during World Women’s Day.
“A woman in Kerio Valley has nothing to show on this day. Children are sleeping in the bush. All county projects are currently disrupted halting development.
Cheserek regretted that the bandits have also been targeting county staff to eliminate those who work with communities.
Executive for Education and Technical Training Edwin Kibor said the killings had forced teachers and pupils to keep off schools due to fear for their lives.
People are killed as they tend livestock, go for a walk and are caught in crossfire. Boy herders have been deliberately murdered and much of the region has become a killing field. Cartels are driving the killings, selling meat and people have little to eat.
Majority leader Stephen Cheruiyot called on the government to intervene and step up its operation before the deadly spiral claims more lives.
Other women leaders, including Deputy Governor for Nandi Dr Yulita Mitei and her Trans Nzoia counterpart Philomena Kapkory, have also called for tougher action to end banditry attacks.
“Women and children suffer most in the banditry attacks and we ask the government to do everything possible to stop the killings in Kerio Valley,” Mitei said. .
(Edited by V. Graham)