Bandit Attacks Surge in North Rift Despite Security Measures

Bandit attacks have escalated along the borders of three North Rift counties after a three-month lull. Previous tranquility was attributed to a combined military and police intervention in the Kerio Valley and the Elgeyo Marakwet-West Pokot highlands, which began in February. However, recent assaults by armed individuals have led to fatalities and livestock thefts.

Over the past three weeks, bandits have killed more than 10 people. Last weekend, two deaths, including a teenager’s, were reported in Elgeyo Marakwet. In a separate incident, Joseph Betaki was targeted in Kerio Valley, while a student, Evans Kiprono, was killed in the Marakwet highlands. Betaki’s mother was also a victim of a similar attack in 2018. Zephaniah Betaki, Joseph’s brother, expressed the family’s anguish over the recurring tragedies.

Last month, two herders were killed in the Kerio Valley, and two more lost their lives in a mission to retrieve stolen livestock. These events have stirred unrest among locals, who are demanding explanations from the military and the General Service Unit (GSU) about the killings.

The recent resurgence of banditry activity defies the security initiatives launched by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki. In July, Kindiki disclosed plans aimed at countering banditry in affected counties, including the establishment of a military base and the construction of roads for easier police access to bandits’ hideouts. He also stated that this is not an ethnic conflict but the work of a criminal network.

Kindiki also announced a crackdown on political entities encouraging dissent and cautioned politicians exploiting the banditry situation for political gains.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich recently expressed concern over the renewed violence. He lamented the loss of 11 lives, especially when they occurred near security installations. After updating President William Ruto, he expressed optimism for a swift resolution.

Local chiefs have corroborated the number of casualties, confirming over 10 deaths amidst ongoing operations.


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