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Former MCA shot dead while pursuing bandits in Igembe North

 Former Antubetwe -Kiongo Ward MCA, George Kaliunga. [File, Standard]

Cattle rustlers suspected to be from Isiolo County raided Igembe North Sub County in Meru in an attack that left a former Meru MCA dead.

According to the police, former Antubetwe -Kiongo Ward MCA, George Kaliunga, was shot dead as he, and several others, pursued raiders who had stolen livestock at Malaene in Igembe North Constituency.

Mr Kaliunga was shot dead as the cattle rustlers engaged police officers, who were hot on their trail, in an exchange of gunfire.

Igembe North OCPD, William Letting, said Kaliunga was killed by the raiders who struck on Sunday and were driving the stolen livestock towards Kinna in Isiolo.

"The livestock were stolen at Malaene and the footprints (of attackers and herd) were going towards Kinna. As they were following the footprints the criminals ambushed them and in the process, the former MCA was shot. Our officers are on the ground searching for the criminals," said Mr Letting.

His body was evacuated from the scene of the murder to the Nyambene Hospital morgue.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and Igembe North MP Julius Taitumu, while condoling with the family of the slain leader, regretted the re-emergence of attacks from across the border.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of Kaliunga's tragic death, a respected member of the community. His untimely demise at the hands of bandits while trying to retrieve stolen cattle is a great loss not only to the family but to the entire community," said Mr Taitumu.

When President William Ruto visited the area last week, Taitumu raised the issue of insecurity in the area and appealed for security to be enhanced to protect the locals against armed armed raiders.

"The rise of banditry in our region is a cause for concern. We must work together to address this issue and ensure that our people are safe," he said.

Responding to concerns raised by locals in the wake of Sunday's attack Taitumu said; "I want to assure you that we will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice. Investigations are underway, and we will nd those responsible for his death".

Governor Kawira said; "I am deeply saddened by the death of Former MCA George Kaliunga (Balala) from Antubetewe Kiongo Ward who was killed in an incident that took place today (Sunday)".

As family and friends of Kaliunga mourned him they appealed to Internal Security and National Government Administration Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki to intervene and end the frequent livestock raids.

Current Antubetwe Kiongo MCA, Nkunja Maore, said; "The cattle had been stolen on Saturday night and locals started pursuing them immediately. In the morning we joined them, together with the police. But the criminals ambushed and in the process killed Balala."

Jerusalem International Gospel Church's Bishop Julius Gitari, an outspoken voice against FGM and other human rights violations, also regretted it was not the first time rustlers had invaded and stolen livestock, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

"Locals have been killed before and it is continuing. For how long will this last? We are appealing for CS Kindiki to intervene and stop the killings," said Bishop Gitari.

Seven people were killed by suspected bandits in Athwana Ward last year.

Kaliunga served in the Meru County Assembly for two terms between 2013-2022.

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