Police accused of killing 300 livestock in hunt for bandits

Police undertaking a security operation in Samburu North have been accused of killing over 300 herd of cattle belonging to the pastoralist community.

The operation started on Thursday after bandits killed a senior police officer in Marti and injured three others.

Sources told the Saturday Standard that the officers fired at the herd of cattle grazing in an open field at Lomerok for fear that armed bandits were using them as a shield.

Nachola MCA Lawrence Lorunyei said the officers, who were driving in armoured vehicles, fired several rounds at the cattle for fear that armed bandits were hiding under the animals.

SEE ALSO :Families’ agony living in bush as armed herders reign terror

He said they then used a helicopter to fire at the livestock to escape.

“They were firing indiscriminately at the animals, killing them. This has caused tension among herders,” Lorunyei said, adding that they also drove to Charda area where they killed more cattle.

The ward representative said residents have fled their homes since the operation began for fear that the police would harass them.

He said the killing of livestock will render them poor because they depend on them for a livelihood.

But Rift Valley Police Commander Edward Mwamburu dismissed the allegations.

SEE ALSO :Three police officers injured in clash with suspected bandits in Tiaty

Mwamburi said the operation that started two weeks ago to flush out armed bandits does not target innocent civilians.

“I am not aware of any livestock that has been killed by the police. What I know about is the ongoing operation meant to contain insecurity among herders,” Mwamburi said.

He said two weeks ago, a group of armed bandits raided Samburu East and drove away 50 head of cattle towards Lomerok area in Samburu North.

A team of police officers went to help recover the stock, but was ambushed by bandits, who shot dead a senior officer.

Lorunyei appealed to the government to halt the operation and engage elders from pastoral communities, who have in the past helped solve disputes.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Mongo Chimwaga said they would flush out armed bandits who were hiding in Baragoi and Suguta Valley.

Chimwaga said the bandits raid several villages and drive away livestock that they hide in the valley.

He was however reluctant to confirm whether livestock had been shot dead, but maintained the operation will continue.

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BanditsSamburu NorthLawrence Lorunyei