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Six killed in game park gun battle

EASTERN
By Ali Abdi | June 13th 2021

A fight between two rival groups of herders in a game park in Isiolo County left six people dead and several others nursing gunshot wounds.

One side, from Leruko village in Kipsing location, were reported to have driven their cattle and goats to a drinking point along Isiolo River within Buffalo Springs National Reserve when their rivals from a village in Ngaremara location allegedly laid a rustling ambush that led to a fierce exchange of gunfire on Saturday afternoon.

The park, a Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) protected area is under the management of Isiolo County government.

There were gunshots in the area for about two hours between (2pm and 4 pm), with both sides blaming each other for the incident.

Senior police officers led by County Commander Joseph Kigen were reported to be on the ground from Saturday evening and County Commissioner Herman Shambi said six people had been confirmed dead.

Mr Shambi said the initial report indicated one side was on a rustling mission, adding that security officers were conducting investigations into the incident.

However, Oldonyiro Ward MCA David Lemantile claimed the herders from Leruko were attacked while taking their animals for watering at the river.

Mr Lemantile, who is also the deputy Assembly Speaker said two of those killed were from Kipsing in his ward while three others were migrants from neighbouring West Gate location in Samburu County.

The bodies of the five, he said, were moved to Isiolo County Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary on Saturday evening.

"I strongly dispute the version by police who must not rely on the information given to them by one side. They (police) should carry out an independent probe," said the MCA.

The Department of Tourism led by Chief Officer Ibrahim Chala had earlier ordered for eviction of herders who had invaded the park with hundreds of animals.

Game rangers from the county government had started the eviction two months ago but due to the vastness of the unfenced park and small number of the personnel involved, many herders still graze their animals during the day and retreat to their makeshift huts surrounding the wildlife sanctuary at night.

The Saturday incident in Isiolo brings to 10 the number of those killed in banditry and rustling incidents in less than three weeks.

On May 31, four herders from Gotu in Isiolo were killed at Kamanga in Samburu East while pursuing their stolen goats. Another person was injured.

A week ago, armed men stormed a homestead within Mwangaza estate in Isiolo town and stole 87 goats. Two people sustained gunshot wounds during the incident.

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