The history of unrest in the North Rift

The history of unrest in the North Rift

For years, the North Rift has been the hotspot of insecurity.

Countless reports of community clashes resulting in casualties, cattle rustling and attacks on security forces. Bringing peace to the restive region has been the elusive task of every administration to date.

We take you back to some chilling attacks and the interventions by government to silence the guns:

At least 42 police officers and police reservists lost their lives in 2012 during a security operation in Suguta valley, now famously known as ‘The valley of death’.

It was the deadliest attack on security forces on Kenyan soil to date.

The young officers aged between 20 and 26 years were on a mission to recover 500 heads of stolen cattle that had been driven to Lomirok village, Turkana.

They were ambushed by over 100 armed attackers while deep in the valley minutes after they had spotted the stolen animals.

In November 2012, the then police spokesperson Eric Kiraithe was quoted asking, “What were those officers doing there without bullet proof vests?”

Then President Mwai Kibaki authorised the Kenya Defence Forces to be deployed in Samburu County and other areas to provide support to Kenya Police Service in apprehending the bandits and recovering stolen animals and arms.

It was part of a series of interventions by the government to stamp out the bandit menace in the area.

Kapedo, 2014

Two years later, on October 31, 2014, 21 officers who were in pursuit of armed raiders who three days before had killed three of their colleagues from the General Service Unit, met their demise in Kapedo.

The raiders had attacked cars ferrying Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination materials and burned them.

President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the area shortly after the attack, demanding that the killers and the guns they stole from the dead officers be handed over.

"The local leaders who say we wait two weeks for the stolen guns to be returned, I am telling them that I refuse to wait two weeks. You know where they are. Those guns that were stolen should be retruned today,” the former president said in November 2014.

Since then, bandit-prone areas in Baringo, Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Samburu counties have been subject to government interventions.

From disarmament drives, dusk to dawn curfews, barazas to foster peace and cohesion, deployment of security forces and drones for surveillance and investigations into the bandits' identities. None however have been effective in quelling the violence.

The killings still persist, livestock in the thousands, stolen, schools closed, and countless people displaced from their homes.

Hundreds killed since 2021

Cumulatively, more than 125 deaths have been reported since June 2021 in parts of Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana due to banditry attacks.

Kerio Valley is now the latest focal point for security forces. Police reports indicate that at least 40 people have been shot dead in the troubled valley since January last year.

The killing of two girls last month sparked calls from leaders, and the most recent being on Saturday.

 “I want to inform the government politely that Kerio valley is under a militia. The work of government is to protect its people, it has abdicated that responsibility,” Marakwet West Member of Parliament, Timothy Toroitich, said.

Oh his part, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot says the government should enlist the services of the defense forces to weed out bandits.

“This country has army officers in barracks; I don’t know what other war they are waiting for. I urge the president to direct them to come to Kerio Valley to fight these defiant gangsters killing our people,” Cheruiyot says.

For Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, the solution is disarming the bandits.

“The best solution is full disarmament, with ultimate support of all of us to get all the guns, my colleague Kindiki is sleeping in the bush trying to solve the problem of banditry, we must support the government, whether you are Marakwet, Turkana or Pokot to end banditry and cattle rustling,” the CS says.

The herculean task has now been inherited by the current regime, that has committed to definitively dealing with the menace once and for all.


Citizen TV William Ruto Banditry Insecurity Citizen Digital Kithure Kindiki North Rift

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