Kenya: Armed South Sudanese Men Invade Turkana Villages

8 October 2020

Tension is high along the Kenya-South Sudan boarder after heavily armed men invaded Turkana villages in Mogilla.

A Nation reporter saw the men suspected to come from the Toposa ethnic community, pitching camp in a grazing field along the Mogilla Ranges. The men, wearing bullet belts, were seen carrying rifles and ammunition in metallic container.

The aggressiveness of the men has caused tension at the border over fears of an impending conflict for water and pasture.

Turkana pastoralists claim the men are targeting to occupy the only reliable water pan that was constructed in Kapatedie, some 50 kilometres from the border.

Mr James Ekalale, a herder in Lokiriwak village, feared that despite the men crossing over with large herds of livestock, they are targeting to attack them and steal their livestock.

"We always witness cross border livestock theft by people who target pastoralists that have embraced peace. I have never seen such a strategy where Toposa pastoralists cross over to our territory with sophisticated weapons and displace us by force," Mr Ekalale said.

Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo said that the men, who he claimed are more than 200, did not enter the country legally. Mr Epuyo said the group is acting like terrorists.

The legislator noted: "For such an organised group to cross into the country with sophisticated weapons is like Kenya is under attack and their strategy is no different from that of a terrorist group."

Residents of Turkana West led by Joseph Jalinga appealed to the State to evict the invaders noting that besides attacks, the Turkana villagers will stare at hunger and starvation as they will be pushed to grounds that have no pasture and with limited water for their livestock.

"They only want to displaced our people so that they remain can occupy the pasture rich ranges and water sources," Mr Jalinga said.

He further said: "What we want is for the State to evict the militia from our territory as this will have a negative impact on development activities along the border."

He said that the efforts by the affected Turkana villages to settle for critical infrastructure like roads, schools and hospital to be established have been dimmed by the invaders.

"We are ready for peace talks with our neighbours so that we share pasture and water but they should do so without crossing over while armed. The tension is also affecting construction of the road from Nadapal to Nakodo," Mr Jalinga said.

Peace campaigners including Lokichoggio Peace Organisation and Lotus Kenya Action for Development organisation have appealed to the pastoralists to respect existing peace agreements.

On Wednesday, Nation saw Kenyan soldiers on armoured personnel carriers stepping up surveillance along the Mogilla Ranges to assure locals of their security.

Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua said he is aware of the invasion adding that the matter is being discussed in Nairobi to inform action to be taken.

"The matter is being handled by senior security officers in Nairobi. I will give more details after the meeting," Mr Wambua told journalists.

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