Armed bandits Saturday ambushed and gunned down a businessman in Endau, Kitui County even as local leaders converged for the burial of a primary school teacher killed last week.
The latest killing happened a day after the Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai led a high powered security delegation to the area where he declared that there is no conflict between Kamba and Somali communities.
The trader, identified as Kitonga Musembi, was shot twice in the chest at the Engamba-Twambui junction in Kitui East while driving home near the volatile border of Kitui and Tana River counties.
According to Kitui County Police Commander Lydia Ligami, his two workers jumped out of the lorry they were in and managed to escape unhurt into the bush from where they resurfaced in the morning.
“At first, there were fears that the workers who had accompanied him had been kidnapped by the bandits but they have been found alive but too terrified to talk,” said Ms Ligami.
The police boss said her officers are pursuing the killers and had collected two spent cartridges from the scene which are believed to have been fired from an AK-47 rifle.
“We’ve got some crucial leads which we hope will lead to arrests and the spent cartridges will be taken for ballistic testing to establish the weapon used and whether it was involved in other crimes elsewhere,” the police commander said.
The killing, which brings to five the number of people killed by bandits in the last three weeks, makes mockery of Mr Mutyambai’s tour of the region and disapproves his assertion that the area is safe.
The IG, who was accompanied by Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, landed at Inyali, a vast manyatta settlement inside the South Kitui Game Reserve on Friday.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Kitui South MP Racheal Nyamai criticised the IG for allegedly trivialising a sensitive security issue by ignoring basic facts about the conflict.
The two leaders said Kambas and Somalis have never shared a boundary and that they were shocked to hear Mr Mutyambai alluding to peace between communities which do not neighbour each other.
TELL THE TRUTH
“The IG, DCI and DPP must be told the truth. They visited people living illegally in a wildlife protected area who are terrorising our people and instead of ordering their eviction, they call for peaceful co-existence. Are they not legitimising illegal invasion of the game reserve?” Dr Nyamai wondered.
The MP said Kambas border the Oroma community in Tana River County but the vast unpatrolled game reserve that separates the two counties has become a hideout for armed bandits who should be forcibly evicted without delay.
“It’s very sad because there’s a lot of cover-up of the root cause of this problem. These people must be evicted with their camels because we will not be forced to negotiate the security of our people,” Dr Nyamai said during the burial of Nyamai Ngau, a teacher killed by bandits.
Mr Ngau was the deputy headteacher of Kalambani Primary School which is among seven learning institutions closed. He succumbed to spear injuries while undergoing treatment at Mutomo Mission Hospital.
The MP’s sentiments were echoed by Governor Ngilu who said she was shocked to hear the IG calling for peaceful co-existence with people who are invading Kitui farms instead of ordering their immediate eviction.
Governor Ngilu said she was saddened by bandit attacks and urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and stop the madness of senseless killings in her county.
“Let us all remember that this is not a tribal issue. It is bandit attacks which should be called what it is as we should find the appropriate solution without trying to whip up uncalled for tribal emotions,” she said.
More than 200 families in Kitui South are still camping at Mutha Catholic Church after renewed bandit attacks drove them out of their homes.
Residents have been accusing the government of turning a blind eye to the problem by failing to flush out more than 5,000 people illegally living in South Kitui Game Reserve, where some are feared to be terror agents responsible for persistent bandit attacks.