The Star (Nairobi)

14 November 2012

Kenya: Kibaki Orders Military to Go After Baragoi Police Killers

Baragoi residents have begun to flee the area after the arrival of the troops in the region. The government deployed security forces to track down ... ( Resource: Residents in Northwest Kenya Flee Army

President Kibaki last night ordered the military to be deployed in Samburu to go after the people who ambushed and killed at least40 policemen in Baragoi. The order follows a meeting of the National Security Council which he chaired last evening.

Police have been asked to investigate nominated MP Maison Leshoomo over the Baragoi attack in which more than 40 policemen were killed in an ambush by suspected cattle rustlers.

In a letter to the Internal Security minister Katoo ole Metito, the former director of the Committee of Experts Ekuru Aukot gives a detailed report of the genesis of the attack and accuses the PNU nominated MP of inciting the two Samburu and Turkana communities which led to the incident.

In his seven-page petition which was also copied to President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, Aukot presented a chronology of events that led to Sunday's incident which he says was sparked off by a cattle raid in a Samburu village, Lkotikal, on October 20.

"The nominated MP, Hon Maison Leshoomo with the support of other leaders and through her actions and conduct on the ground is believed to be inciting and continues to incite the two communities against each other," Aukot stated.

Yesterday, Leshoomo denied the allegations. "I don't know about the accusations. There are intelligence agents in Samburu county and other security apparatus, so how can Maison do all these things? If Ekuru Aukot has said all these things, what do you want me to say? Why can't you also write that I have also been threatened?" Leshoomo said.

According to Aukot, Leshoomo has always been mentioned whenever there has been a conflict between the Samburu and the Turkana.

He said on October 20, a group of Turkana cattle raiders attacked a Samburu village and stole 100 animals. After a meeting between the elders of the communities, the Turkana elders promised to return the stolen animals within a week.

The elders recovered 48 animals but even before they could get the rest, three of the local Turkana chiefs were interdicted by the local district commissioner for allegedly allowing the incident to take place in their jurisdiction.

On November 5, during a retaliatory attack, 12 Samburu morans were killed when they attacked the village of Lomirok. The Samburu managed to steal 54 camels.

Aukot claims that during the burial of the Samburu morans on November 6, Leshoomo is alleged to have threatened the Turkana with dire consequences.

On the same day,the Samburu county commissioner ordered the director of police operations in Samburu West county to mount an operation to recover animals that had been stolen at Lomirok.

On November 7, the Nachola ward councillor Lawrence Lorunyei--who has since been arrested for allegedly inciting the fighting--went to court and got an order stopping the police operation.

Aukot claimed that on November 8, Samburu morans were mobilized and transported in police vehicles to a place called Sharda from where they mounted several attacks against the Turkana which resulted in some deaths.

Claiming the conflict was 'political' Aukot said government agents on the ground as well as decision makers in Nairobi appeared to have "completely been held hostage by politics/politicians and appears to have decided to turn against its own citizens."

Aukot alleged that some of those who died in the Baragoi ambush were not policemen but were Samburu morans who had been issued with police uniforms. "We challenge you to closely examine those who have been airlifted to Nairobi. We also challenge that their true identity and their police identity numbers be produced and be made public," Aukot says in his petition.

Yesterday, it emerged that majority of the 150 administration and regular policemen deployed in the operation were rookies--many of them graduated from the police academy just three months ago and were taking part in their first operation.

Their relatives and families who have been camping at Wilson airport for the last four days waiting for the bodies, yesterday criticized the government for taking too long to respond to the crisis. The first bodies were offloaded from a police helicopter yesterday nearly four days after the attack.

On hand to console the families was Iteere and other senior policemen who promised to do everything they can to arrest those responsible for the ambush.

"Abdi had not even gotten his first salary. The salary had been sent to the bank but he was deployed for the operation before he could withdraw any of it," said the uncle of 22 year old Abdinasir Abdi Hassan Gullet who graduated from the police college in September.

The uncle who is also a policeman, said the family had opted to hire a chopper to fly Abdi's body for burial at his home in Harbaswen, Wajir today.

"Its a big shame that the Kenyan government can treat its officers like this. To work and die for this nation is useless. How come they never sent reinforcements to the policemen when they realized they were overpowered and outnumbered? " said Abdi's uncle.

The CID Director Muhoro Ndegwa said three people--two chiefs and the Nachola ward councillor Lorunyei --have been arrested over the incident.

Baragoi OCPD Maurice Makhanu said the police were also looking for another councillor who are alleged to have incited the fighting. Lorunyei was questioned at the Rift Valley CID headquarters and is due to be charged in a Mararal court today.

Raila, speaking during a Ford Foundation function in the city condemned the killings and said the government had mounted an operation to catch the killers. " Decisive action will be taken to ensure there are no such recurrences in Northern Kenya," the PM said.

The National Police Service Commission chairman Johnston Kavuludi said the commission will take action against any officer found to have been complacent during the operation.

Yesterday, the Baringo county commissioner Benard Leparmarai announced a two-week amnesty for residents of Pokot and Baringo to surrender any illegal firearms they have or be forcefully disarmed.

Leparmarai said an additional 500 policemen had been deployed to mop up illegal guns in the region. Police have so far recovered 1,200 guns from the the communities in Pokot, Baringo and Turkana since the start of this year.

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