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Baragoi killings: The untold story

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Updated Wed, November 21st 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

 

By STANDARD TEAM

Families of security officers killed in the Baragoi massacre have not been officially told about the grim fate that befell their loved ones.

Contrary to tradition when the force loses officers, families interviewed Tuesday said they had been kept moving from one office to another, without formal help over identification and burial.

Worse still for them, there has not been an official list of the police killed and missing, as well an advertorial tribute complete with names and pictures as is usually the case in such tragedies.

“If the government is not willing to assist us find our son, we are wondering what other alternatives we have. Our enquiries are not being treated with any seriousness from the office of the president,” said Mr Joseph Githinji Wanjohi, father of missing Administration Police Constable Daniel Kamau Githinji.

It also emerged the security officers killed by bandits, were largely inexperienced and unsure of the treacherous Suguta Valley and so surrendered to guidance by Samburu home guards. 

The group that walked into a deathtrap believed to have been laid down by Turkana cattle rustlers could also not have been drilled on what awaited them in the ‘Valley of Death’, as well as possible life-saving maneuvers they needed to know in advance.

It also turned out to date, as our enquiries revealed, no senior police officer wants to take responsibility for the deployment of the over 100 officers. This gets more puzzling when it is considered that embedded in the squads dispatched to pursue the bandits were home guards who largely civilians and sparsely trained in warfare.

This is where the story of the Baragoi killings get nasty; to date not all the families who lost their sons have been informed and also the police itself is playing a peripheral role in the burial process.

Some of families of the slain police officers were not notified by the government of the death but got to know through their friends, and in one shocking case, a girlfriend of the deceased. 

In Chiromo Mortuary lie seven bodies brought from the scene by police but without any form of identification, and so remain nameless. The complication for the mortuary staff is that they cannot carry out postmortem operations on them because the police have not asked that they be carried out neither have their been identified and their clearance sought. Still, they can’t conduct any DNA tests because the families as required by law have to be involved in the process.

The staff revealed some of the bodies are also in pathetic condition and no much evidence can be gleaned from routine forensic examination.

What is also in doubt is the whole question of exactly how many police officers were dispatched and the casualties. According to confidential police sources, 30 police officers were killed and the rest of the 42 were police reservists. “We are still waiting for official orders before we can release the list of police officers who died and we can therefore not give you the names,” said an officer at police headquarters when asked for the list.

The police are also still searching for one officer, Jilo Woche, who is still missing and they believe he is dead. Since he fled with a water jerrican they believe his body would likely be found next to it.

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