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Leaders condemn Turkana bandit attack

Wednesday November 15 2017

Medics give first aid to police officers

Medics give first aid to police officers awaiting to be airlifted to Nairobi at Lomelo in Turkana on November 15, 2017 after a bandit attack. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FLORAH KOECH
By FLORAH KOECH
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WYCLIFF KIPSANG
By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
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Three police officers and an examination official were on Tuesday night killed in an attack by bandits at Kapedo, on the border of Turkana and Baringo counties.

The officers are said to have been escorting examination papers when the attack occurred in Kasarani, Turkana East.

On Wednesday, leaders from Turkana County, who included MPs Lodepe Nakara (Turkana Central) and Lokiru Ali (Turkana East), piled pressure on the government to conduct investigations and bring those behind the attack to book.

DISTRESS CALL

“They (bandits) were coming to steal our cattle but when they found the Turkana ready for them, they returned and attacked the police officers who were just escorting exam papers,” Mr Nakara told a press conference at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday.

According to the lawmakers, five officers who responded to their colleagues’ distress call, were seriously injured.

“We will not avenge but we want the government to arrest the bandits and those who incited them. Let them not use the blood of the people to get political power,” said Mr Nakara.

The two leaders spoke as Rift Valley regional coordinator Wanyama Musiambo ordered a massive security operation in the volatile area following the attack.

Mr Musiambo confirmed the officers were ambushed by an unknown number of armed bandits at the notorious scene, about 500 metres from where 19 Administration Police (AP) officers were shot dead were shot dead in an ambush in 2014.

The account he gave of what transpired was, however, different from that by the two MPs.

KAPEDO

“The police officers were going to Lokori after taking food to their colleagues camping at Kapedo, when they were ambushed by armed bandits,” said Mr Musiambo. “Two officers who were shot died on the spot and the bandits seized three firearms from them.”

It emerged that one of the officers killed had survived the 2014 attack. The officers were on a mission to recover a vehicle burnt in a botched operation.

According to Mr Musiambo, the driver, who was shot in the abdomen, sped off after the attack with exam official Ibrahim Sheikh, who was shot in the head, on aboard.

The Turkana East Sub-County director of education died of injuries on the way to Lomelo.

Mr Musiambo said the authorities mobilised the General Service Unit and the Quick Response Team to comb the area and found the body of the third police officer.

“We have commenced a serious operation to comb the bushes in the area and we are ordering Kasarani residents to surrender the firearms and tell us who the perpetrators are,” said Mr Musiambo.

“The incident happened during the day and they were targeting the officers.”

AIRLIFTED

He said the injured were airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment.

The senior provincial administrator condemned the incident, noting that two helicopters were dispatched to evacuate the four injured officers and carry the bodies, and another to conduct aerial surveillance in the area.

“We will pursue the bandits by road and air,” Mr Musiambo vowed.

“The bandits killed 19 police officers in the area three years ago and they are at it again.”

He added that a contingent of police officers had been deployed to the insecurity-prone area.

On Wednesday, officers serving in the region, which has come to be known as “The Valley of Death”, said the unfriendly terrain had played to the advantage of armed bandits.

The area has deep gullies occasioned by soil erosion over many years, providing a perfect hideout for the bandits.

ESCAPE

Constable Eric Mugendi of the AP, who survived the ambush that claimed his colleagues during the 2014 attack, said he has only God to thank for his escape.

At the same time, a Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam paper started three hours late at four schools in Igembe Central .

The exam was delayed after papers for the four schools were found in a Marsabit Central container. Airlifting of the materials was done hours later.

At Kamiruru, the exam started at 11.15am, 15 minutes after it was received at Kangeta Girls.

Exam delays were also witnessed at St Joseph Kikuyuni Secondary School in Matungulu Sub-County after a vehicle transporting test papers got stuck in mud. The school’s principal, Mr Gideon Musyoki, said attempts by passersby to push the vehicle were futile.

In Trans Nzoia, Mr Francis Mugambi Gichugi, a police officer assigned to provide security at Chepkoiywo Secondary School, collapsed and died.

He is believed to have died of cardiac arrest.

Additional reporting by David Mwere, Isabel Githae, Gastone Valusi and Gerald Bwisa