Tension rises as suspected rustlers shoot and injure two

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Residents attends a peace meeting after a bandit attack in Tilakai village that left two students critically injured. Photo/PD/David Musundi

Tension has gripped West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border after suspected bandits shot and seriously injured two students at Tilakai village, Chepkokogh area in West Pokot County. 

In what is believed to be a retaliatory attack, three suspected armed bandits ambushed the two who were on their way home on Sunday evening. 

Ben Riposia, a Form Two student at St Christopher Aruba in Trans Nzoia County and Irene Chepoghisio, a Form One Student at Annet Secondary are nursing gunshot wounds at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. 

Consequently, tension is building in the area as residents flee, fearing for their lives following the fresh attacks.

Attack has affected learning since the incident happened a stone’s throw away from Tilakai Primary School. 

Incident also threatens to disrupt peace appeal achieved through negotiations along West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border two years ago.

Precious commodity

Yesterday,  Governor John Lonyangapuo, led local leaders and security officers in condemning the attack and appealed to the National Government to set up security posts at Chesegon, Kamulogon, Sokotow and Chemsto areas.

“We appeal to the government, through the Office of the President, Interior Ministry and Rift Valley regional coordinator George Natembea to intervene.  We need a special unit at Kamulogon,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.

Lonyangapuo called on the people of Chepkokogh to embrace peace and desist from retaliatory attacks, saying security personnel  will pursue the attackers. 

“We intend to hold a meeting with elders from Kopil clan from Marakwet and Kamoyen from Pokot for a reconciliatory process.

Peace is a precious commodity and I request all the people living along the border to embrace it in words and actions,” he said.

 Governor at the same time challenge residents to reveal identities of the few criminals who want to reverse gains made in the peace building process

“We are calling on residents to report any known bandit. We do not want blanket condemnation.

If a Pokot or Marakwet has committed any offence, let them be identified as an individual. Do not spoil the name of the whole community,” added Prof  Lonyangapuo.

County Boss now wants  the National Government to intervene  and unite the two remaining communities along the border and consider sending Anti-Stock Theft camp in  the area to help eliminate the vice.

Blanket condemnation

Sigor Member of Parliament Peter Lochakapong called on peace committees from the two counties to  up their game.  

He said there should not be blanket condemnation of perpetrators of the crimes but have them arrested to face the full wrath of the law.

“We are asking our people to confidentially divulge names of individual perpetrators of this heinous crime,”he said.

Lochakapong called on peace committees from both counties to work together and meet regularly. 

“The committees should cooperate   with the government to realise the peaceful co-existence of our people instead of leaving communities unguided,” he said.

Legislator asked residents, especially the youth to shun politics in security matters especially on social media.

“We should stop the blame game.  We need to open up the road because those attacked suffered to be taken to hospital through Lomut, which is   more than 20 kilometres away,” said Lochakapong.

Lochakapong promised to start opening up security roads and resettle residents.

 “We will conduct an operation in the forests and all areas to flush out bandits. We have put measures in place to end the menace. It is unacceptable to lose lives anyhow.

We have been here several times and we do not want to see such incidents. We need cooperation from leaders. We don’t want people to hide behind the community,” said Lochakapong.

A teacher at Tilakai Primary School, Sammy Cornelius said teacher’s are  living in fear and need to beef up security in schools.

A resident, Mama Rotich Cheramach, has called on the government to move with speed and help them. “We have nowhere to go. We are faced with hunger,” she said.

 Marich OCS Barnabas Chumo said they are working round the clock to beef up security in the area. 

“We need a site for security officers. We also need elders from both communities to work together,” he said.

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