Kenya: Curfew in Baragoi in Intensified Fight Against Illegal Guns, Bandits

The government has imposed a 30-day dusk-to-dawn curfew in Baragoi town, Samburu North, to allow a security operation aimed at forced disarmament and flushing out bandits.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya made the announcement on Tuesday after a two-hour meeting with the county top security chiefs in Baragoi town.

The curfew is to last 30 days, but Mr Natembeya said it will remain until peace is restored.

The aim of the operation, according to the regional administrator, is to wipe out criminal gangs, bandits and cattle rustlers.

Mr Natembeya said the government decided to declare Baragoi town a security operation area and begin the forced disarmament of warring members Turkana and Samburu communities, following a year's grace period for the voluntary surrender of weapons, which was unsuccessful.

The security operation will be carried out by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), General Service Unit (GSU), Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ATSU), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), National Intelligence Service (NIS), Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) and National Government Administrative Officers (Ngao).

"Lawless jungle"

Mr Natembeya noted that Samburu North had turned into a "lawless jungle" where bandits are marauding at will and elders and leaders have failed to broker peace to end animosity.

"Proliferation of illegal firearms here is very high and almost every family owns several guns, which they are using to wreak havoc. This is not a jungle. We want to restore normalcy once and for all," he said.

"We cannot have two governments; one that rules Baragoi and another one for the other parts of the country. We have one government ... we will show you that there are bigger guns than the AK47 rifles that you possess," he added.

No more reservists

The regional coordinator, who was accompanied by the head of regional security agencies, said the operation will start in Baragoi and extend to other troubled areas.

He said impunity has set in among locals who have started raiding their neighbours and carrying out senseless killings, ostensibly to provoke the government.

Local leaders demanded the reinstatement of Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) to neutralise escalating banditry activities. However, the tough-talking administrator reiterated that the government is not considering engaging KPRs as they have been abused, which has worsened the situation.

Mr Natembeya chaired a security meeting at Baragoi Catholic grounds, where he announced the start of the Baragoi operation.

On March 5, Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal made a passionate plea for President Uhuru Kenyatta to "do anything possible to end banditry activities in the troubled Baragoi area".

Mr Lenolkulal noted increased attacks in the region have left a trail of destruction and deaths, including of livestock, which the community heavily relies on.

Tens of people have been killed in Samburu North in four months, in retaliatory attacks by the warring communities.

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