Investigate helicopter link in bandit attacks |


The apparently never-ending story of the banditry in the North Rift region is rearing its ugly head again. Several days ago, the bandits attacked a General Service Unit (GSU) camp in Baringo South, throwing the neighbourhood, including a primary school, into a huge panic.

Local leaders have raised the alarm over a suspect blue helicopter that has been spotted hovering over the banditry-prone villages. This is not the first mention of a helicopter. Sometime last year, there was talk of a white helicopter that flew over the region before there was a flare-up of bandit attacks.

There was suspicion that the occupants of the helicopter were either carrying out reconnaissance for their gangs of armed bandits on the ground or that they were ferrying the weapons and ammunition that have been used to wreak havoc in this vast region.

Spanning several counties, including West Pokot, Samburu and Turkana, the bandit menace has persisted for many years. It is, of course, a lucrative illicit business, in fact, a criminal enterprise, as the meat from the animals driven away by the cattle rustlers is reportedly sold several hundreds of kilometres away. The markets are in Nairobi and other major towns. Therefore, the masterminds in their safe havens far away just wait to line their pockets with the proceeds.

When he took office last September, President William Ruto visited the region and put the bandits and their funders on notice. However, nothing much has changed. As the Standard Eight and Form Four candidates get ready to sit their KCPE and KCSE exams, respectively, the brigands have been attacking motorists and pedestrians.

Villagers are alarmed that several days after the blue helicopter was spotted flying over the area, attacks were carried out. On October 19, a police reservist was killed and another injured in one such raid. Local leaders are calling for an investigation to establish the owners of the helicopters and what their real mission is.

There is a need to deal firmly with the resurgence of the bandit attacks. If there are wealthy warlords fanning the violence they should be brought to book and efforts to protect people’s lives and property intensified.

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