Local leaders led by the Turkana governor Josphat Nanok have claimed that the renewed bloody conflicts in Kapedo along the Turkana –Baringo border that left one person dead and several houses torched by heavily armed Pokots bandits was a state-sponsored conflict.
Last week more than 60 heavily armed Pokot overran the General Service Unit(GSU) camp and other security installations in Kapedo town for six hours before they reigned terror on residents killing an elderly man and setting ablaze more than 14 houses.
Two people were also critically injured including school children during the attack.
“We have no doubt that these are likely to be state-sponsored terrorists. How can more sixty heavily armed terror groups who were armed with illegal firearms break a security installation and went ahead to negotiate with security officers for six hours before they unleash terror on residents under the watch of security personnel,?” Nanok posed.
Speaking to the press in Lodwar County headquarters offices today, Nanok accused the government of going to bed with Pokot militia groups believed to have crossed over from Tiaty in Baringo county.
The governor asserted that some top security organ was aware of the militia groups who terrorized Kapedo residents for several hours while they kept a tight lip on the matter even when leaders were making frantic calls for their interventions.
“We are dismayed that since Sunday’s update the government has failed to respond to the incidents. Gunshots were still heard renting the air and the security camps and villages are under siege. The bandits have also vandalized hospitals, churches, schools and other social facilities and nothing was being done to salvage the situation,” said the governor.
Nanok also faulted Rift Valley Regional Commissioner (RC) George Natembeya for occupying a sensitive security docket that has failed to address Kapedo –Baringo border conflicts which have claimed dozens of lives and destruction of properties.
“As leaders, we noted that insecurity escalated when the government disarmed National Police Reserves (NPR) along the volatile region. That was the wrong approach to security matters. It seems one community surrendered the guns while others still owned the guns. If these conflicts persist, then we have no option thereafter but to find other ways how the community will protect themselves,” he said.
He explained that Kenyans should not be duped that the Kapedo conflict was about cattle rustling, but it’s a resource-based conflict over rich pasture land and Geothermal energy found there which a section of political leaders in the current regime have a stake on it.
But Turkana County Commissioner (CC) Muthama Wambua dismissed claims that the government had not intervened in the conflicts.
“The government has acted very swiftly by deploying a section Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) from Kainuk to Kapedo region to restore order in the region. The Kenya Defence Force (KDF) from the neighbouring area also on the ground combing the area. All these are government interventions. We have also deployed additional security officers on the ground and calm has returned in the area,” Wambua said.
Mr Wambua said some unverified reports indicate that members of Pokot communities had claimed that Turkana bandits had stolen around 200 goats and drove them to the village.
He said the government has embarked on a serious disarmament exercise which has begun from Laikipia, adding that plans are underway to remove illegal firearms owned by criminals in Baringo and Turkana.
Loima legislator Jeremiah Lomorukai described the incident as unfortunate even when they had brokered peace with their neighbours in Tiaty in Baringo North constituency.
Mr Lomurukai accused security personnel of watching heavily armed militia causing mayhem to residents without any response.
“We foresaw a situation where the massacre of residents could have happened because people were killed under the full glare of security personnel who were helpless. We appeal to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to address security lapses in the Kapedo area,” Lomurukai said.
The MP claimed that locals were duped to surrender their firearms making the community vulnerable to attacks by bandits while other neighbouring Pokots communities did not return their guns.
“We have given the government a 14 day an ultimatum to return NPR firearms that have assisted in the restoration of security in the region or call for a protest to press the state to act. It’s long overdue schools have been shut down and health facilities vandalized yet the government was doing nothing to intervene on the matter,” the MP said.
Turkana East MP Ali Lokiru claimed that for the last three days Kapedo village and security camps were still being surrounded by heavily armed Pokots bandits who have indiscriminately continued to shoot people.
Speaker of the County Assembly Erastus Lokaale said there was the failure of the state to protect the lives and properties of residents in Kapedo area.
Mr Lokaale said the state duped the community to return firearms while the other side was not disarmed which is now making the community vulnerable to frequent raids since they cannot defend themselves.
“We observed even the peace meeting which was held in Kapedo and attended by leaders two months ago was just a hoax. We are questioning where heavily armed militants can overrun a security camp to cause mayhem. We are tired of burying children and women in these conflicts, Lokaale stated.