Top security officials came under attack by suspected Pokot bandits in Kerio Valley on Friday morning as they inspected the area ahead of a visit by Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet this Saturday.
Marakwet East deputy county commissioner, the area police district commander, the district Administration Police commander, the district criminal investigations officer, a National Intelligence Service NIS official and at least 20 police officers escorting them were ambushed and their vehicle sprayed with bullets during the early morning incident.
They came under a hail of bullets at Samu grazing field in Kaben location about three kilometres from Kerio River, the official boundary separating the warring Pokot and Marakwet communities.
Police officers escorting the delegation fought back as they fled from the area.
"The windscreens of [AP commander's] vehicle are completely ripped off. But we are lucky to be alive. In fact we had to speed off under a hail of bullets," said Deputy County Commissioner Eric Mulevu.
He added: "All of us escaped unhurt. These criminals are attempting to intimidate the officials because they are against the opening up of security roads because they know that the roads will work against them."
NEW POLICE POSTS
Locals in Kaben location regretted that the authorities went to the volatile valley without notifying them, saying they could have helped them fight the Pokot attackers.
"The police officers did not bother telling us they were coming. If they had informed us we would have offered them reservist police escort and our community youth.
"It is very wrong that aggressors moved into our territory to forcefully graze their livestock and attack government officers," said Chebet Kirwokin, a resident.
Mr Boinnet is expected in the county tomorrow where he will launch new police posts at Arror and Liter in the valley, where recent attacks have claimed at least 40 lives.
The national government recently starting building roads in the area to help officers respond to attacks by bandits and the IG is expected to open some of them on Saturday.
"Yes. They don't want the roads and that is the only reason they are attacking officials so that they can scare us away," said Mr Mulevu.
Kaben Location Chief Joseph Lokanda said the bandits had shown that they do not respect senior security officials in the county.
Meanwhile, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo has said the only solution the government is left with in fixing the Kerio Valley insecurity is to carry out serious disarmament.
According to the administrator, the disarmament will neither spare the attacker not the attacked, saying most communities in the region were now armed.
“The Pokot owning firearms have been raiding their Marakwet neighbours in Kerio Valley and the raids forced the vulnerable Marakwet to acquire the firearms to protect themselves and therefore they are now equal in terms of ownership of illegal weapons.
"For meaningful peace to be realised in that region, the government will have to disarm everyone,” said Mr Musiambo.