Panic and fear has gripped Maungu area in Voi sub-county and environs following the brutal murder of two camel herders on Monday night by unknown people.
One victim died during the attack while the second one succumbed at Moi County Referral Hospital while receiving treatment. A massive manhunt has been launched for the killers even as police try to establish the motive of the murder.
Confirming the incident, the County Police Commander (CPC), Saidi Kiprotich said a contingent of police has been deployed to the troubled area to maintain order as efforts to curb the tension get underway.
Two suspects have so far been arrested and are helping police with investigations. There are claims that other residents have gone underground to avoid arrest over the killing of the herders.
“Police are on the ground to ensure there is enough security. We are also working actively to bring down the tension in the area,” he said.
The volatile situation forced the officers to make night-long patrols at the village as rumors of impending retaliatory and counter attacks over the killings spread.
Unconfirmed reports say the herders were linked to the death of a local bodaboda rider who was killed while ferrying an unidentified client to Kajire area. The rider’s motorbike was stolen afterward but his phone and money were untouched.
The county has in the past experienced sporadic conflicts pitting camel herders and local farmers. The herders flock in the county in search of water and pasture and allege to have legitimate lease agreements with ranches where their animals graze.
Two months ago, a farmer at Kirumbi area was stabbed to death by a rogue herder who went into hiding. Irate local farmers retaliated by killing dozens of camels before security agencies intervened and restored calm. A massive security operation to drive out thousands of camels from the region ensued.
Months later, the camels have quietly come back prompting local leaders to accuse security agencies of failing to guarantee peace.
By Wagema Mwangi