Hundreds flee after attack claims 6 lives in Laikipia

Laikipia East Police Commander James Kithuka and police officers at the enclosure in Nanyuki Police Station where more than 2,000 head of cattle are being confined after being driven out of private ranches in Laikipia County. Photo: Kibata Kihu/Standard

Tension remains high at Matwiku in Laikipia County following Wednesday's attack by bandits that left six police officers dead.

Thursday, local families began fleeing the region fearing for their lives. Most of them have since relocated to Kinamba.

"We cannot live in this place (Matwiku) any more as the bandits are attacking us even during the day and stealing our livestock," said Jane Muthoni, noting she had lost five cattle to the rustlers.

Among those killed in the Wednesday attack were two senior Anti-Stock Theft Unit officers who were patrolling the area.

A police source cited poor security coordination, lack of proper facilitation for officers and political interference for escalating attacks in the region.

Kenyan Defence Forces officers have, for example, been deployed to Laikipia Nature and Conservancy Ranch where they are carrying out an operation to flush out illegal herders.

Administration Police officers and Anti Stock Theft officers, on the other hand, have been deployed at Kamwenje and Matwiku areas neighbouring the ranch.

Despite this elaborate security deployment, bandits continue to operate in the ranch with ease, even attempting to overrun police posts.

"There is no collaboration between the officers in the ranch and those that are outside. The bandits are taking advantage of the security lapse to attack. It is like the KDF officers do not work in harmony with the other officers," said the source.

Another officer at Kamwenje Police Post said the officers had low morale since they had not been paid their risk allowances.

But Nyahururu OCPD Ezekiel Chepkwony, who is heading the operation, dismissed the allegations that some officers had not been paid their allowances.

Police spokesperson Charles Owino also dismissed the allegations and said officers conducting the operation were not entitled to hardship allowance but appreciation from the Inspector General when there are funds.

"Any form of stipend officers receive is paid through the pay-slip. Nobody is entitled to allowances," said Mr Owino.

He said officers assigned operation duties in areas where they are not attached are the ones entitled to special duty allowance, money transacted via voucher or payslip.

He said officers were previously entitled to risk allowance of Sh5,000 each per monthly, money that was replaced by comprehensive medical cover.

"Regular police and APs used to receive risk allowance whenever they were assigned to hardship areas but currently they are not receiving the money after being provided by medical cover," he said.

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