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January 16, 2019

Marakwet schools remain closed after banditry raids

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i [R] and Governor Alex Tolgos in Marakwet East on February 19, 2018. /STEPHEN RUTTO
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i [R] and Governor Alex Tolgos in Marakwet East on February 19, 2018. /STEPHEN RUTTO

Schools on the Marakwet-West-Pokot border remained closed for the second day yesterday following bandit attacks.

Three raids took place on Friday, Saturday and Monday, forcing residents to flee for fear of retaliatory attacks.

This led to the closure of Kamelei, Kalya and Tenderwa primary schools.

Residents held protests in Kamelei, calling for security agencies in Marakwet East and Pokot Central to arrest armed bandits wreaking havoc in the area despite a heavy presence of police officers.

"We have decided to hold peaceful protests because we want order restored. There are many unanswered questions in these attacks," resident Thomas Kirop said yesterday.

He urged Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to move with speed and ensure bandits are arrested and disarmed.

"Our children have not returned to school. They have fled with their parents to safer areas," Kirop said.

Marakwet East sub-county director of education Kimutai Chirchir said Tenderwa reopened yesterday, but Kamelei and Kalya remain closed.

"We are working closely with the security team. The major problem in the two schools is that parents fled with their children. We are hoping they will return now that police officers have been deployed," he said.

Chirchir said education officials will seek to ensure learning is not disrupted as students prepare for national examinations in October and November.

Elgeyo Marakwet county commissioner Ahmed Omar held a meeting with security officials following raids that have led to the theft of 30 cows and 31 sheep in less than a week.

Marakwet East deputy county commissioner Stephen Sangolo said police officers have been deployed to pursue the bandits.

"We have not arrested the suspects, but we are working closely with security agencies in our neighbouring county to trace and recover the stolen livestock," Sangolo said.

The Interior ministry launched an operation to smoke out bandits believed to be hiding in Embobut forest, but it is yet to give a report on the progress.

At least 500 officers and police reservists were deployed during the operation that started three weeks ago.


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