Bandits strike Kapedo, kill one person, injure another

Tension has gripped the volatile Kapedo village at the border of Baringo and Turkana counties after a herder was killed and several others sustained serious gunshot injuries in a daring raid that also saw dozens of goats stolen.

The 11:30 am Monday incident happened when a number of men were herding in the grazing fields, a small distance from Kapedo village.

They were ambushed by an unknown number of armed criminals who shot at them before driving away the livestock.

During the attack, Ekule Lonyapid, 26, was shot dead while Lokidor Rukoo, 27 sustained gunshot injuries on his leg.

Learning interrupted

Learning was interrupted at the neighboring Kapedo Mixed Primary School and Kapedo Day Primary School after pupils were forced to scamper for safety in security camps within the locality.

Nickson Ebule, one of the herders who survived the attack said they were ambushed by the bandits who started shooting at them.

The ensuing shootout lasted for hours before the attackers drove away the livestock towards Silale Hill in Tiaty East Sub-County.

“One of us was shot dead while another sustained serious gunshot injuries. We are surprised by these attacks staged by the neighbouring community, because we have experienced relative calm for close to a year,” said Mr Ebule.

A trader, Francis Lopalal, said shops at Kapedo shopping center remained closed as locals sought refuge in their homes for fear of more attacks from the attackers.

“For some time now, normalcy had returned to this porous border and we had started going on with our daily activities. Schools had also resumed learning. But following today’s attack, we fear going to the shopping center because we fear more attacks by the bandits who may be hiding within the locality,” said Mr Lopalal.

He urged the government to step up security efforts so that the area does not go back to past months where locals could not sleep in their houses.

Police pursue attackers

Turkana County Police Commander Samuel Ndanyi confirmed the incident, but urged locals in the border area to remain calm as they pursue the attackers.

He said a contingent of Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), General Service Unit (GSU) and military officers based at Chesitet responded and are still in pursuit of the bandits.

“We lost one of the herders during the raid and another was injured but is recuperating at Kapedo Health Center. I urge locals to be calm and restrain from retaliatory attacks as we pursue the criminals. We have also intensified patrols in the border area to prevent more attacks,” said Mr Ndanyi.

Valley of death

Located at the border of Baringo and Turkana counties, Kapedo is known for bloody conflicts which have left a trail of death over the years.

The area was named the ‘Valley of death’ to signify the danger of working or living there, having claimed hundreds of lives over the years, including security officers deployed to the area.

Several attacks have happened in the area in the past, including the killing of 22 Administration Police (AP) officers who were shot dead in a deadly ambush in Kasarani area in 2014.

The slain officers were on a mission to recover a vehicle which was set ablaze in another botched operation.

Gun mop up

In March last year, the government rolled out a gun mop up exercise to seize illegal firearms and smoke out armed criminals after the killing of senior security officers who had been deployed to bring sanity in the troubled area.

Among the officers killed included Superintendent of police Emadau Tebakol, chief inspector Moses Lekariab and a driver, police constable Benson Kaburu who were fatally shot by armed criminals suspected to be from the neighboring Tiaty Sub-County.

Tebakol, a GSU commander who was based in the porous Kapedo was shot dead on January 17, 2021 when he went to respond to a distress call from some officers who had been attacked by armed criminals.

The two others, Lekariab and his driver Kaburu who were attached to the Rapid Deployment Unit in Kapedo were attacked four days later by bandits at the volatile Kapedo Bridge.

Relative calm

The area had experienced relative calm for close to a year following peace efforts rolled out by the government, clergy and political leaders.

Peace initiatives had taken more than eight months, with peace caravans being rolled out by leaders, provincial administration, professionals and religious leaders who traversed the banditry prone areas in the region to unite the warring Pokot and Turkana communities living in the disputed area.

Boundary tussles have been cited as the major cause of the conflict between the two communities.

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