By Osinde Obare
TRANS NZOIA: Police in Trans Nzoia County have shot and captured a suspected cattle rustler and repulsed two groups of heavily armed raiders who attacked villages in the area.
The frequent attacks have raised fears among residents and their leaders that insecurity could hamper the planting season.
Other stakeholders have warned that food shortages in Pokot County have started fuelling conflicts with neighbouring counties and urged the Government to curb them.
Trans Nzoia County Commander Lillian Okembo said a police reservist shot and arrested the suspect when a group of raiders tried to steal cattle from a home in Mwamba village.
In another attack, police fought off and repulsed raiders who had struck Bonde village in Cherangany constituency to steal cattle.
Mrs Okembo said villagers raised the alarm, prompting police to act swiftly and sparking a fierce exchange of fire between the officers and the intruders.
“They had surrounded the villages to round up cattle when residents raised the alarm, prompting the officers to respond.
There was a shoot-out,” said Okembo, adding that their numbers could not be ascertained. She said the raiders retreated into the expansive Kabolet Forest after the officers overpowered them.
The attempted raid has caused panic among residents but the county commander said an adequate number of officers had been deployed to patrol the forest and protect residents from other attacks.
Trans Nzoia Woman Representative Janet Nangabo said attacks by cattle raiders are likely to affect land preparation ahead of the planting season and asked the Government to protect farmers.
“We are worried that such attacks will slow down the planting season.
We are asking the Government to beef up security in the affected areas,” said Mrs Nangabo.
She called for security forces in villages near Kabolet Forest and parts of Chepchoina.
The Kitale Director of Justice and Peace Commission Centre Leonard Barasa argued that biting hunger in Pokot County is pushing youths to raid cattle in Trans Nzoia County.
“The Government must take this drought problem seriously as it is bound to create security problems. A hungry man will go to any lengths to get food,” he said.