IN SHORT: After armed men killed police and civilians in Kenya’s Rift Valley in February, a security operation was launched against bandits and cattle rustlers. But photos on social media don’t show rustlers fleeing the operation for Uganda – they were snapped months and years ago.
Photos doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter show men driving cattle between trees and shrubs. They’re being posted with the claim that the men are “killers and cattle thieves” from the Pokot community escaping to Uganda after the government launched a security operation in their region.
“Pokot killers and cattle thieves currently relocating to UGANDA to avoid government hand. The Lotelemoi hills is almost empty,” a typical caption to the photos reads.
The Pokot people are part of the larger Kalenjin community in Kenya’s northern Rift Valley region. The community – and others in the region such as the Turkana, Marakwet, Tugen, Illchamus and Samburu – have long been entangled in armed cattle-raiding and other violence.
In response, the government launched a security operation with police and soldiers targeting bandits and cattle rustlers in the region.
But do these photos show cattle rustlers escaping to Kenya’s western neighbour of Uganda? We checked.
Old photos of herders
Here the photo’s caption reads: “Pokot herders armed with machetes and sticks driving livestock in Kamusuk, Tiaty Sub-county.” It doesn’t mention “killers and cattle thieves”.
None of the photos show cattle rustlers escaping the security operation in February 2023.
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