Residents of Chesubet village in Marakwet West are reeling in shock after members of a family descended on their neighbours and burnt down 27 houses in a retaliatory attack after their kin was allegedly murdered.
According to Elgeyo-Marakwet police boss John Mwinzi, members of the Titoket family attacked the Kamaina family following the murder allegations.
A man identified as Elias Saina was said to have been attacked by another only identified as Kemboi on Thursday last week following a fight in a drinking den.
"In the course of the argument, Kemboi picked up a piece of firewood and hit Saina on the head injuring him badly. He was rushed to Iten County Referral Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday," said Mr Mwinzi.
According to neighbours, immediately it was announced that Saina had died, members from his extended family attacked the Kemboi family, including extended family members, and burnt down property.
However, witnesses said that by the time the attackers reached the Kamaina family, everyone had gone into hiding, including the accused. Efforts to trace members of the two families were futile as they could not be located.
"They also took away 30 head of cattle and other domestic animals. We have never witnessed such a thing in this village," said Mr Cherubet Alex, a local.
Mr Cherubet also said no one had been arrested over the attack.
When we visited the village, the devastation left behind by the attack was evident.
In one homestead, a posho mill and a Toyota Land Cruiser were destroyed after being set on fire.
In another homestead, dead chickens and bats were strewn all over the compound.
"We watched helplessly as members of the Titoket family wreaked havoc on the Kamaina family. Members of the public could not help as the attackers were armed with all manner of crude weapons," said Mr Jeremiah Kemboi, a neighbour.
However, according to area police OCS Pascal Kiamba, immediately the death of Mr Saina was reported, police moved swiftly and arrested some members of the Kamaina family.
Mr Kiamba said police were dispatched immediately after the attack but could not salvage much as they were overwhelmed by the large number of the attackers.
"Police are still investigating but things will have to cool down before the two families agree on how to compensate each other," said Kiamba, alluding to the Marakwet cultural practice when a family member gets killed by a neighbour.