Kenya: Isiolo Residents, Traders in Fear as Gang Advances Extortionist Mission

Traders and residents of Mwangaza on the outskirts of Isiolo town are living in fear following the emergence of a gang that has been forcibly extorting money from them.

It is claimed that some government officials have turned a blind eye on the gang of young men that unleashes violence on those who fail to give them 'protection' fee.

Availability of drugs and desperation due to lack of employment, coupled with radicalisation has been cited among the reasons why youths in Isiolo are indulging in criminal activities.

The group, which uses crude weapons to unleash violence on those opposed to it, has been demanding Sh20, 000 from everyone building a house, whether rental or residential, in the area which is experiencing multiple legal tussles over land ownership.

LAND GRABBING

Some administrators accused of land grabbing, especially in areas within the populous Isiolo town, have allegedly been using the gang to advance their agenda of defrauding residents of their properties.

Last week, a man was almost killed when the group descended on him with pangas and clubs for allegedly building a house for his son without consulting them.

The criminals vanished after they saw some residents approaching them. The badly wounded man was rushed to hospital by a bodaboda rider.

Isiolo County Commissioner Herman Shambi has already warned that any government officer who will be found culpable of facilitating the gang will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

TWO ARRESTED

He said two members of the gang had been arrested and that their ring leaders are being pursued.

"We will ensure all the gang members are arrested and brought to book and if there are any government officers working with the gang, they will not be spared," said Mr Shambi.

Residents have accused the security team of laxity in dealing with the gang that has been terrorising them for the past three months.

"We have complained several times but nothing is being done. Some government officials are using the gang to intimidate us and sell off our land to tycoons," a resident said.

The county commissioner appealed to residents to volunteer information to assist police in arresting the situation.

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