Tension high in Laikipia West as police hunt down bandits

Tension remains high in Kamwenje, Laikipia West after a security operation was intensified in the area following last week’s killing of six police officers.

Locals have been fleeing their homes for fear of being attacked by bandits.

The anti-stock theft unit officers were on a familiarisation tour at Kamwenje area in Laikipia West when they were waylaid and killed by suspected bandits last Wednesday.

READ: What’s driving the violence in Laikipia?

Other officers, who sustained serious gunshot wounds during the confrontations, were airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment.

According to Mr Michael Wanjau, a resident of Matuiku Village in Kamwenje location, area residents have fled their homes.

ATTACKED

He said that security officers have vowed to avenge the death of their colleagues.

“We have been living in fear after the police officers were attacked, most of our neighbours have also fled,” he said on Wednesday.

Mr Lucia Mukenion of Paka village at the Laikipia-Baringo border claimed security officers have been torturing residents and burning their manyattas.

He told the Nation that the officers have accused the locals of killing their colleagues.

READ: Laikipia farmers condemn murder of officers

“They have been very furious at us following the attack of their colleagues,” he said.

INNOCENT RESIDENTS

However, Laikipia County Commissioner Mr Onesmus Musyoki dismissed claims that security officers were targeting innocent residents.

Mr Musyoki, who said the operation only targeted bandits, added that the government will intensify its operations in insecurity-prone areas.

“The government will not relent until order is restored,” the administrator said.

READ: More than 100 bandits attacked us, survivor narrates

Laikipia has been hit by a wave of violence in recent months as armed cattle-herders have invaded private farms and ranches.

VIOLENCE

Several people have been killed in the violence which escalated in February after the shooting Officer Commanding Laikipia West police Division Mr Merengo Muherai.

Mr Muherai was shot on February 8, while driving away illegal grazers at Kifuku Ranch, Rumuruti town in Laikipia West.

On March 5, Sossian ranch co-owner Mr Tristan Voorspuy was shot dead by illegal grazers who had invaded his farm.

In April, renowned conservationist Mrs Kuki Gallman was shot and seriously injured by herders who had invaded her Gallmann Africa Conservancy in Laikipia.

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