One person was shot while 38 cows were stolen in simultaneous raids by suspected Pokot bandits in Kerio Valley just hours after Deputy President William Ruto toured the area on Tuesday evening.
Residents claimed that the bandits took advantage of the DP’s visit by raiding villages where most of the recently-deployed police reservists had left for a parade at Kerio Valley Boys’ Secondary School.
The raids took place at Chepkunyuk grazing field in Koibirir location barely three kilometers away from the school and stole the cattle and Kipchumwa location where they gunned down one person.
At Chepkunyuk, the heavily-armed raiders did not encounter any confrontation unlike in Kipchumwa because there were no reservists anywhere near to respond to desperate cries for help from helpless herders.
The armed bandits reportedly spared an elderly herder telling him to run away but leave his cattle.
However, there was a fierce confrontation in Kipchumwa leading to the death of Aden Kipyatich Kilimo, 26, who was shot in Ng’achar village, along the border of Kipchumwa and Kaben locations in Marakwet East.
Confirming the raids, Marakwet East Deputy County Commissioner Eric Mulevu said the stolen animals were driven towards Ng’oron in neighboring Tiaty constituency.
Ng’oron location is among the dangerous and disturbed areas gazetted by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, where armed bandits reign supreme unleashing terror on their neighbours.
Mr Mulevu, however, said the police in joint efforts with the reservists were pursuing the stolen livestock, adding that the government was committed to implementing orders that would make it impossible for bandits to operate freely in the Valley.
Area leaders were quick to condemn the attacks saying the attacks were meant to sabotage DP’s efforts to restore peace in the volatile region.
Senator Kipchumba Murkomen who accompanied the DP said the bandits were acting on orders by politicians who do not want to see peace in the Valley.
“I believe the banditry boys are working for their lords who are pretty sitting comfortable in air conditioned offices in Nairobi. The same livestock being stolen from the Marakwet side, are the same ones finding their way to the ranches of their masters financing the criminal activities,” said the senator.
And even though though he did not attend the DP’s meeting in his Endo Ward where the raids occurred, the area MCA Festus Kirop condemned the raids adding that they could have been politically instigated.
“This is pure sabotage. Why are these raids happening when the DP is around?” asked Mr Kirop.
The MCA however appreciated the DP’s peace initiatives saying the efforts had reduced banditry in the region.