September 18, 2021

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Laikipia residents terrified by the wave of banditry and killings

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i with PS Karanja Kibicho at the Kenya School of Government. June 16, 2021. [Samson Wire. Standard].

Tension remains high in Laikipia County even as the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) met last night to review the situation in the volatile region following the killing of two more people on Friday.

A total of 12 people have been killed in the region in the past three weeks following a wave of banditry attacks.

The killings in the village of Ratia in Laikipia West occurred less than 24 hours after local leaders asked the national government to declare the Laikipia North and Laikipia West troubled areas.

Reacting to the killings, Chief Interior Secretary Karanja Kibicho warned politicians not to complain if the government adopts a tougher strategy to restore order in the area.

Speaking on Friday in Kirinyaga County, where he inspected development projects, Kibicho said the shepherds ignored the government’s order to leave private ranches.

He said local politicians were given a lot of time to solve the problem of insecurity, but they politicized it.

“We are holding an urgent security meeting to deliberate on how to track down the invaders who are killing innocent people in Laikipia,” Kibicho said.

Laikipia County Women’s Representative Catherine Waruguru said the situation has deteriorated in recent weeks as a result of banditry attacks that have claimed lives, leaving dozens of people maimed.

“Insecurity in parts of Laikipia North and Laikipia West is getting out of hand. The number of lives and property lost is increasing day by day. As residents, we recommend that the two constituencies be published in the gazette as disturbed areas, ”Waruguru said in a statement.

Area governor Ndiritu Muriithi and Sossian MCA Jacob Edung condemned the incidents.

“How long will we lose innocent lives? The government must definitely put an end to all of this. We are all looking for a lasting solution, ”Muriithi said.

The killing of the two occurred just hours after Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya took a ride to warn illegal grazers to leave the area.

On Thursday 3 September, raiders attacked Zachary Gakuru’s home and shot his 12-year-old daughter in the leg. She is currently hospitalized at the Sipili Medical Center.

Mr. Gakuru said suspected bandits attempted to enter his home.

“They shot at the door several times, but unfortunately a bullet went off in his left leg. He is still in the hospital. We found over 41 spent shells of bullets in the morning, ”said the father.

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George Natembeya, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Tensions are high in Miteta, Mirando, Wangwaci and Ol Moran with some residents fleeing the region to the nearby shopping centers of Sipili and Ol Moran.

In the past three months, more than ten people, including two police officers, have been killed by suspected gunmen believed to be from Baringo County.

According to a Benson Kamara resident, the men from Friday’s attack were moving their cattle from Ratia village to Ol Moran when they were attacked.

“It was around 4 in the morning when they were moving their cattle for fear of their safety. They were shot and died instantly. More than 40 cows were stolen, ”he said.

Over 600 head of cattle have been stolen so far.

Governor Muriithi has since promised to move his offices to the Sipili shopping center to monitor the situation.

On August 15, four security officers attached to the volatile Laikipia Nature Conservancy were attacked by suspected bandits who are said to be hiding inside the reserve.

On August 2, an officer from the General Service Unit was killed in Ol Moran, Laikipia County. The officer was among those patrolling the Laikipia-Baringo border following the attacks.

The attack came just a day after armed bandits broke into Wangwaci village and killed one person. In the July 30 attack, raiders stole 50 cows causing further tension and anxiety among residents who on July 29 withdrew their children from primary schools in Kabati, Mihang’o and Wangwaci in Ol Moran.

Some of the most affected areas include the Olmoran, Githiga, Sosian and Mukogodo neighborhoods such as Munanda, Mirango, Kahuho, Ratia, Kamwenje, Miteta, Rubere, Nagum, and Survey.

On 24 July, two GSU officers were shot and wounded after being attacked by gunmen in Laikipia North. The two officers were attacked at Loisaba Ranch while they were changing tires on their car.

This now brings the number of security officers who have been injured by gunmen in the past month in Laikipia County to seven.

Two weeks ago, Martin King’ori, 33, was cycling home when he was killed.

Laikipia farmers have become targets of shepherds who move from door to door shooting and even killing to cause fear and panic.

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George Natembeya (left) CS Fred Matiangi and GSU commander Douglas Kanja (right) at Naibor burglar alarm camp, Laikipia. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Since then, the fear has seen the schools closed and deserted.

Waruguru wrote to cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i to arrest all politicians found behind the attacks, saying he took a political move.

At the same time, Waruguru petitioned Land Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney to issue property titles on community land in Laikipia North and Laikipia West to help curb the tide of violence in hot spots.

Speaking in the Fort-Ternan Mall in West Kipkelion Constituency, Waruguru argued that land ownership documents will put an end to violent land and ranch violations by pastoralists from neighboring counties.

“We are also calling for local administrators in the affected areas, especially the bosses and their assistants, to be checked again,” he said.

“You can denote the pattern of the election period of 1992,1998, 2007,2012,2017 and now towards the general election of 2022 the conflict has resumed,” he said.

Laikipia County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti said more police officers were deployed in the unstable area.

“Our officers are on the ground and we are chasing the attackers. Other police officers have been deployed at the Baringo-Laikipia border, “Nyameti said.

[Additional reporting by Nikko Tanui]

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