Kenya: Daring Raiders in Kapedo Scuttle Reconciliation Bid

14 January 2021

Renewed attacks among pastoralists in the North Rift have dealt a blow to peace efforts, with reports of criminals acquiring sophisticated weapons to fight security teams sent to the region.

Socio-economic activities have been crippled on the Turkana-Baringo county border following retaliatory attacks in Kapedo.

Communities in Kerio Valley are acquiring guns and ammunition despite an ultimatum by Interior Cabinet Sectary Fred Matiang'i to surrender the weapons two years ago.

Tension is high in Kapedo following the Monday and Tuesday attacks that led to a death, four injuries and many houses razed.

Hundreds of families have been displaced and schools deserted.

The affected schools include Kapedo Secondary, Kapedo Primary, Kapedo Girls Primary, Lomelo and Silale.

Learners who are not locals are putting up at the shopping centre. Movement has been restricted, save for an occasional police vehicle on patrol.

Transport on Kapedo-Marigat and Kapedo-Lomelo roads has been paralysed as residents fear ambushes.

Attacked by bandits

Ms Evaline Ekaudu, a Kapedo local, said people no longer carry out simple daily activities for fear of being attacked by bandits roaming freely in the area.

Kapedo usually gets fresh produce from Marigat in Baringo County.

Due to the perennial insecurity menace, there are no public service vehicles in the locality and residents hike lifts from police vehicles as a surety of protection from criminals laying in ambush.

The most affected insecurity-prone areas are Kapedo itself, Kariobangi, Adipo and Ngaleewa.

More than 60 heavily armed men stormed a police camp on Monday evening demanding that the officers find their stolen animals.

They later walked to Kariobangi, firing indiscriminately and burning buildings, including a guest house.

A 78-year-old man died in the raid while two other people were injured.

Ms Ekaudu said locals believe the attacks are politically instigated and that the raiders are being funded by prominent people.

"We are alert throughout the night because the bandits can strike any moment. Children remain indoors during the day. Venturing out requires police escort," the woman told the Nation on Wednesday

She added that the presence of General Service Unit, Rapid Deployment Unit and the military officers has not stopped the attacks.

Mr Francis Lopalal, a resident, said locals even fear going to the health centre, just hundreds of metres away, for fear of attacks.

"When people were injured during the Monday attack, security personnel had to bring in a health worker using an armoured vehicle," Mr Lopalal said.

Insecurity

"We don't know what will happen in case of a medical emergency. Those seriously injured cannot be taken to Chemolingot or Marigat hospitals due to insecurity. Why can't these criminals be disarmed? Residents think the government has abandoned them. Even the security officers are not safe."

The area has not known peace for decades.

Read: Police officers in Kapedo arms mop-up 'neglected'

Political leaders, elders, administrators and the clergy have called meetings in the past in a bid to provide solutions to the insecurity problem.

In November, for instance, governors, MPs, ward representatives and administrators in the North Rift pledged to end their differences.

The leaders called on locals to give peace a chance and co-exist in order to foster regional development.

Just hours after one of the peace meetings, armed men from Tiaty attacked Kapedo, making away with more than 200 goats.

Three days after the incident, an 18-year-old man was killed near Kapedo Girls Primary School.

Kapedo has been nicknamed "the valley of death" as a result of the insecurity that has claimed hundreds of lives.

In November 2014, some 30 people, among them 19 police officers, were killed in an attack.

The huge gulleys in the area provide perfect ambush grounds for bandits.

Local and national leaders keep blaming one another whenever attacks occur.

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