Pupils shot as Kuresoi violence escalates
Published on December 5, 2007, 12:00 am
By Vitalis Kimutai, Robert Wanyonyi and Peter Mutai
Violence in Kuresoi assumed another horrendous dimension when two pupils were shot in the ongoing senseless orgy of bloodletting.
The Class Seven pupils at Sondu River Primary School were ambushed by a gang at Soliat Village, and are now admitted to Siloam Hospital in Kericho.
And leaders condemned the escalation of the violence and called for the sacking of the Internal Security minister, Mr John Michuki, for failing to stop the violence.
“Michuki should be shown the door if he cannot put his foot down as innocent people get killed, families displaced, children orphaned and property lost,” said a former Cabinet minister, Mr John Koech.
Other leaders who condemned the violence included former MPs Mr Charles Keter, Mr Franklin Bett and former Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot.
Koech asked President Kibaki to tour the area to show his Government’s commitment to ending the clashes.
And in violence-scarred Mt Elgon, things were no different with police killing a suspected member of the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) in a fierce gun battle.
The officers said they were on an operation to flush out SLDF suspects when they came under heavy fire at Banantega and Kubra areas in Kopsiro Division.
According to Mt Elgon District Commissioner, Mr Mohammed Birik, about 20 gunmen attacked the officers before they were beaten back into the forest, some with serious injuries.
“Police are still combing the area to get those criminals who escaped because we belief the nature of their injuries can’t allow them to go far,” said the DC.
He said the newly formed Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) crack team had recovered several stolen animals and arrested a number of suspected militiamen.
“I can assure you that we are going to win the war against criminals. They should either surrender unconditionally or be wiped out completely,” warned Birik.
Back in Kuresoi, Master Gilbert Kirui, 13, and Master Robert Sigei, 14, were recuperating at the Siloam Hospital in Kericho with bullet wounds.
Sigei was shot in the left shoulder while tending his parents’ cattle and Kirui in the left arm by a gang that raided their home.
“We were looking after cattle when a group of heavily armed people emerged from a thicket and shot at us,” said Sigei.
The young boy told journalists that the first shot hit him and a second one missed him by a whisker after he fell down.
Kirui, on his part, said a group of gunmen invaded his parents’ home and shot at him.
“All I can remember is that a bullet hit my hand and I fell down, only to come to as I was being brought to hospital,” said Kirui.
Doctors said the two were out of danger.
“The injuries are not very serious and no vital organs were injured. They are responding well to treatment,” a doctor at the hospital said.
Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, Mr Noor Hassan, rushed to Kuresoi and addressed several peace meetings where he blamed local politicians for inciting wananchi.
The PC, who was accompanied by the Provincial Police Officer, Mr Everest Wasige, who ordered the re-opening of the Molo-Olenguruone road that had been closed for the past one week following the clashes that have so far claimed 13 lives in Kuresoi.
The PC warned youths living along the highway to stop stoning vehicles or risk arrest.
The Government officials also visited Kaptagich Tea factory where over 300 tea pickers had abandoned work following threats.
The PC urged the security forces deployed in the area to be non-partisan or face discipline measures.
But local leaders led by former Keringet Ward councillor, Mr Charles Chelule, told the PC to redeploy all officers from communities living in the area.
Chelule accused the police of using excessive force on innocent people and said those behind the skirmishes should be arrested and charged.