Some residents of Kathangani in Tharaka North sub-county are spending festive season nights in bushes for fear of attacks by armed criminals.
The criminals raided Kathangani market on Friday night, broke into shops and stole property of unknown value.
According to Kathangacini chief Kibuti Ndango the eight heavily armed assailants who attacked the market are believed to be bandits who have repeatedly raided the village and stole livestock in the recent past.
During a press briefing on Sunday, Mr Ndango said the armed criminals, who hide inside the vast Meru National Park, were spotted in the park on Saturday evening by residents.
“We suspect the bandits decided to break into shops after missing animals to steal because villagers have moved their livestock to other villages far away,” said Mr Ndango.
The chief said tension is very high because during the Friday night attack the criminals warned the residents of consequences if they do not find cattle when they come next.
Julius Muthini, a resident, said the attackers went around the village looking for livestock before heading to the market.
“They were demanding to know from locals where they had taken livestock and threatened to shoot them in case they do not find some next time,” said Mr Muthini.
Sabastian Mwangangi, a resident, told Nation that banditry had become the order of the day in Kathangacini leaving residents who are mainly herders poor and others dead.
He said incidences of attacks were on the rise in the last six months awakening memories of early 1990s when many people were killed and livestock stolen in the region.
Mr Mwangangi added that some residents are contemplating to relocate to for safety of their lives.
He criticised the government for not curbing the attacks despite public outcry.
Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara has condemned the increasing attacks and asked Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to deploy Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) in the area.
He said that he had already given Mr Boinnet a list of 57 youths from the area to be recruited as KPR officers and asked county commissioner Florence Amoit to help follow up with the matter.
“The solution to this problem is deployment of KPR officers to guard the villages,” said Mr Murugara.
He also called for deployment of anti-stock theft police at Nkiruni camp which has stayed without officers for many years despite construction of their houses.
The legislator also asked the management of Meru National Park to help in flashing out the criminals from the reserve which has been their hiding place for many years.