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Recent deadly attacks force hundreds to flee homes in Mt Elgon

Wednesday February 21 2018

Chebyuk settlement scheme

The contested Chebyuk settlement scheme. Hundreds of residents are fleeing Mt Elgon region following a renewed spate of attacks by suspected members of outlawed SDLF. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BARNABAS BII
By BARNABAS BII
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DENNIS LUBANGA
By DENNIS LUBANGA
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Hundreds of residents are fleeing Mt Elgon region following a renewed spate of attacks by suspected members of the outlawed Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) at the contested Chebyuk settlement scheme.

Those fleeing are seeking refuge in the neighbouring Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties even as the government denies claims of the regrouping of the once dreaded criminal outfit.

More than 20 people have been killed in the past two months, the latest on Sunday night when four were murdered in Cheptais Sub-County.

ENDLESS FEAR

Those who spoke to the Daily Nation said they were living in endless fear as the attackers strike at any time of the night.

“We are constantly in fear because at night we dread gangsters who just storm in your house and kill. We don’t know what we should do to be alive,” said Ms Salome Cheptoo, who lost her husband during the Sunday night attack.

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According to Ms Cheptoo, her husband was killed after the criminals, who were armed with guns and machetes, stormed their house and held them hostage.

“I managed to escape through the rear door and sought refuge in a thicket only to return in an hour’s time to find the lifeless body of my husband,” said Ms Cheptoo, from Soos village. Police took the body to Bungoma County Referral Hospital mortuary.

Another resident, Emmy Chemutai, who lost her brother-in-law, said: “Here in Mt Elgon, we don’t have adequate security any more. Even if you are attacked at night, no security officers will come to your rescue.”

In the attack, 38-year-old Rotich Kiboi and 66-year- old Saul Tutei were shot dead in Soos village and their four cows butchered while Vincent Choror and Moi Kirumbi, both aged 29, were shot dead together with their six cows.

AVENGING

Residents said some of the SLDF members who were recently released from prison after serving jail terms of 10 years could be avenging by targeting those they think set them up.

Most people who spoke on condition of anonymity believe the former prisoners were picking out specific families.

Residents say the gang members are well-trained and have recruited members in every ward in Mt Elgon constituency. They said that after launching raids, the gang members cross over to Uganda.