Five herders who sustained gunshot injuries during the Friday bandit attack in Burat area of Isiolo have narrated their harrowing ordeal on the day that nine of their colleagues lost their lives.
Speaking at the Isiolo County Referral Hospital where they are nursing gunshot wounds, the injured who escaped death by a whisker said that the attack was planned and well executed, with approximately 300 raiders first surrounding their Manyatta and livestock grazing area while hiding in the thickets, before opening fire that caught the herders unawares.
28-Year-old Abdiaziz Mohamed said that all of his colleagues who lost their lives fell while running for their lives in different directions, but little did they know that the enemies had surrounded them, leaving no way out for them to escape.
18-Year-old Haidar Mohamed noted that he was on his way to get camel milk to take back home when the worst happened, and he found himself in the middle of attackers. They shot him twice on both legs before he fell down and feigned death. The raiders believed he had died and left him, as they drove away the 200 camels that they stole.
25-Year-old Arafat Osman (Somali herder) said that he was in the company of colleague herders from the Turkana community when the bandits struck, driving away their camels. Three herders from the Turkana community are among the nine who succumbed to the gunshot injuries by the attackers who are believed to be from the neighboring County of Samburu. Six of those who died during the attack were of Somali origin.
They called for a complete disarmament exercise to ensure that arms are only left in the hands of licensed security officers. Arafat noted that armed illegal herders who have invaded Isiolo County grazing areas are not genuine and are only disguising as pastoralists whose livestock are facing imminent death due to the ongoing prolonged drought, while planning to kill and steal livestock from the host communities. They appealed to government authorities to fast track the operation to flush out the armed herders back to their home counties and recover the stolen animals.
Speaking at the hospital while visiting the injured, Mohamed Ali Adan who is a relative to one of the injured persons faulted the government security agencies for failure to protect the lives and property of Kenyans. He argued that the frequent attacks perpetrated by raiders from the neighboring County are not about pasture, but could be about land, where they seek to instill fear by killing the host community and therefore force them out of their grazing areas.
He accused Isiolo County elected leaders of inaction, noting that they have remained silent when Isiolo residents were being attacked inside their own land, questioning why two separate attacks had happened on the same day at Burat and Barambate areas, while none of the elected leaders has taken their time to even condemn the incidents or condole the bereaved.
His sentiments were echoed by Anab Kassim, a human rights activist who noted that the frequent attacks could be geared towards scaring away host communities from their grazing lands, ensure that the locals do not turn up to vote, or make the locals poor so that they rely on help from the political class.
Anab faulted security agencies for failure to act on early warnings to avert attacks, calling for a serious disarmament exercise to seize arms from civilian hands across all communities, in order to ensure that only licensed security officers wield the dangerous weapons that have done more harm than good to the local communities.