Noah Cheploen and Bernard Gitau @PeopleDailyKe
One person was killed and 26 others injured after fresh clashes erupted in Olposimoru at the border of Narok and Nakuru counties bringing the deaths from the ethnic skirmishes to 15 in the past one month.
The middle-aged man is believed to have been pursuing stolen cattle when he was attacked. The killing triggered public outrage.
Yesterday, additional police officers were deployed to arrest the situation in the area, an operation spearheaded by Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya and his Nakuru counterpart Joshua Nkanatha.
At the same time more than 10 homes were set ablaze at Olmariko and Esoit in Narok North. The incident appears to have got security agencies off guard.
Most of the victims had arrows lodged in their bodies. Four of them were undergoing treatment at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet County while three were being treated at Olenguruone Sub County Hospital
Tension has been rising in the region in the last few months. Although, government has attributed the flare-ups to cattle theft, locals blame historical land issues and incitement by politicians particularly over Mau Forest evictions.
“They have been taken to the theatre to remove arrows. It is an emergency operation,” a doctor involved in the operation said. He said that they received three men who were referred from another facility for specialised treatment.
“They were trying to recover stolen livestock but they faced stiff resistance leading to an intense fighting on Sunday evening,” said Alfred Sang, a community elder.
The clashes, according to former Olpusimoru MCA Wilson ole Masikonte started after seven cows were stolen in Olmariko.
Last week, more than five people were killed in Nesuit, Njoro in Nakuru county after clashes broke out between two local communities. At least 11 people including area MCA and Nakuru Assembly Speaker Samuel Tonui have been charged with incitement and engaging in war like activities.
Houses were also torched as the road leading from Olposimoru to Olenguruone was blocked by hundreds of youths armed with bows and arrows.
The situation remained tense as a heavy security team led by Natembeya and Nkanatha visited the area in an effort to restore peace.
Natembeya said security had been deployed in the area and assured residents that all the 200 cattle that had been stolen would be recovered.
Kuresoi OCPD Hezbon Kadenge, who said the injured were trailing cows that were stolen from Olenguruone to Olposimoru when they were attacked, also confirmed the incident.
Nelson Ngetich, a survivor, who sustained arrow wounds on one of his feet said violence erupted after eight cows were stolen early in the morning at Amalo in Olenguruone.
He said that the cows were driven towards Olposumoru and when residents from Olenguruone tracked them, they were attacked.
“We were trailing the cows when we were attacked by persons armed with arrows,” he said.
According to Olenguruone Medical superintendent James Waweru, 26 casualties sustained arrow wounds.
“Some have arrows lodged on their bodies and we are working to treat them. The facility has the capability of handling more casualties having three ambulances on standby in case of an emergency,” said Waweru.
Another victim Jonah Bett who sustained an arrow injury on his thigh and is recuperating at the Olenguruone sub-county hospital said some people were injured while scampering for safety when they were ambushed.
The latest clashes come in the wake of a similar flare-up in Nakuru between two communities that left at least six people dead and several nursing arrow injuries.
Most leaders have linked the skirmishes at the area bordering the Maasai Mau forest to the planed evictions in the area.
Speaking during veteran politician William Ntimama’s Memorial service, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko wondered why such chaos where being experienced few days after the first phase of evictions.
“We want to assure that nothing will stop the evictions regardless of the violence experienced in the area. The second phase will continue as planned,” he said.
Early this month, tribal clashes ensued at Nkoben, Nkarreta and Olmekenyo areas bordering the forest land where three people died, 10 injured and tens of houses reduced to ashes.
Tobiko said the forest issue is not about any tribe or politics but an issue of reclaiming the glory of the water tower that has been degraded over the years