Over 300 residents of Narasha in Oldonyiro Ward, Isiolo, have been left homeless after their houses were torched by suspected arsonists believed to be from neighbouring Laikipia County.
Among those whose houses were destroyed by the arsonists on Monday is the area chief and a leader of a women’s group, Ms Salandei Lebulkash.
Residents claimed that the attackers were in the company of a senior administrator from Laikipia North.
CULTURAL CENTRE BURNT
The attackers also burnt a cultural centre in the village and destroyed learning materials and window panes at Narasha Primary School, forcing over 40 families to seek refuge in neighbouring villages.
“I heard gunshots and, while I was scampering for safety, I saw a group of heavily guarded men together with an administrator from Laikipia side approaching our houses. While hiding in a thicket, I could see the men setting our houses on fire,” one of the residents said.
The affected residents, who want security beefed up in the area that borders Laikipia County, linked the incident to the Tuesday dawn attack in Tiamamut village in Laikipia North where four people, including two rangers at Naibung’a Conservancy, were killed by suspected bandits from Samburu.
After the Tuesday attack, Laikipia County security team led by County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti convened a meeting with the affected residents in Elpolei. An assistant county commissioner and a senior police officer from Isiolo were reportedly barred from attending the meeting.
During the meeting, Mr Nyameti ordered demolition of structures built along the Isiolo-Laikipia border in readiness for April cultural rites of passage and urged the residents to maintain peace and desist from launching retaliatory attacks.
Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha, who during a visit to the village pledged to donate foodstuffs and help the families reconstruct houses, called for speedy investigations into the matter in order to bring to book those behind the crime regardless of their positions and influence.
While appealing to the families to return home, the legislator asked the Interior ministry to take action against local politicians reported to be fuelling divisions between two communities.
“The two communities have been living together in peace for many years and what is happening is as a result of incitement by local leaders for political interests. Nobody is above the law,” said Mr Odha.
“Government administrators involved in the attack should not be transferred but arrested and charged like other criminals,” he said.
The MP blamed the incident on disarmament of police reservists in Isiolo.
He complained Laikipia police reservists still have firearms which, he said, continue to threaten security in the area. He said that if they are not disarmed, their Isiolo counterparts should be rearmed.
“If the intention of the crime is to make our people run away, it will never happen as we (leaders) will help them reconstruct houses and ensure there is enough security for them to continue living here,” he said while warning residents against retaliatory attacks.
Mr Odha further asked the Ministry of Land to deploy surveyors to the area to help in resolving the protracted boundary row between the two communities.
“Independent surveyors from both counties should help the two communities know where the boundary is so that we resolve the issue once and for all,” said Mr Albert Lemasulani, the Isiolo Boundary and Dispute Resolution Committee secretary.