Pokot Militia Besiege Turkana Villages
The fight between Pokot and Turkana tribes continues to escalate amid government efforts to curb the situation.
On Monday, 16th December, seven people were killed and five others injured in an early morning raid at Lorenkipi village by suspected cattle rustlers in Turkana County. During the raid hundreds of livestock were stolen along the Kenya – Uganda border.
The warlike Turkana and Pokot communities often clash over cattle rustling and boundary disputes. The two communities are rivals and have practiced thefts of animals from each community for a long time, which has recently turned into a battle.
The Somali Dayah buses that ferry refugees who are traveling along this corridor have experienced numerous security incidents since the clashes begin in November. On an unspecified date, a bus was ambushed with gunshots that destroyed the windscreen of the vehicle, leaving passengers to flee into the unsecure bushes before Kainuk police rescued them.
The travelers are at risk of property thefts and sudden attacks while travelling within Turkana County. However, the regular police are deployed in the affected areas to curb insecurity situation for public where travelers and motorists are accustomed to armed police escorted within Turkana.
In mid December, unknown militia attacked another Dayah bus where unidentified Somali refugees were wounded. Since the incident, people have to spend days on the road to wait for safer passage. Goods and other commodities could not be transported to Kakuma, which has encouraged heightened prices of consumer goods and services in the refugee markets.
Earlier in December, the community fight escalated when the Turkana South OCPD Mr. Richard Kipsang was leading armed regular police, Anti Stock Theft Unit and administration police from Kainuk police station to the Turkwel gate in Lorokon area when they met a group of about 200 heavily armed Pokot men who blocked the road and denied any access to other parts of Lorokon, claiming the area is under the jurisdiction of Pokot and not Turkana.
The police team have been regular attacked by Pokot armed groups and that has led the government to send more police to fight the Pokot militiamen to rescue Turkana civilians who are besieged for several days without food and water.
On 5th December, the scores of attacks and counter attacks resulted in an unknown number of people being killed in a gun battle. Revenge attacks were planned by both communities in a hide and seek kind of battle.
On 6th December, armed Turkana raiders attacked a village in West Pokot, injuring a herdsboy and taking away more than 300 goats. According to area police boss, Mr. Jackson Mwenga, the raiders shot the boy in the chest after ambushing him while he was grazing the animals at Kamurio village. At least 25 people were reportedly killed by gunshots between the two tribes according to the Kenya Red Cross.
“Most of the locals have guns because the two counties share porous borders with Uganda and S. Sudan where they import the firearms from,” a North Pokot government official said in a comment.
Since the attack started, several families have been displaced in Karun and Ombolion in West Pokot and Lokwar, Nakuse and Loyapat in Turkana County. Despite government efforts to beef up security along the boundaries of the two counties, families are living in fear of revenge attacks.
Currently, the government has deployed the Kenya Defense Force to curb the menace of fight in the region.