Kenyan cops killed in ambush hit shocking 42

Some of the bodies had been recovered on Saturday and others on Sunday but police were shocked on Monday when they recovered 14 others found lying in Suguta Valley.

NAIROBI, Nov 12 – The number of police officers killed in an ambush by bandits in Samburu at the weekend hit 42 on Monday after more bodies were discovered in the forest.

Some of the bodies had been recovered on Saturday and others on Sunday but police were shocked on Monday when they found 14 others found lying in Suguta Valley.

“We are shocked at what we saw… bodies of police officers lying all over the ground,” a police officer who witnessed the discovery said.

“I have never seen something like this,” the officer speaking on condition of anonymity said. “The number of officers killed is now 42.”

Rift Valley Provincial Police Chief John M’mbijiwe and head of police operations in the region Willy Lugusa did not comment on the latest toll.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe had earlier on Monday morning put the death toll at 31, before the other bodies were discovered.

Police officers hunting cattle rustlers in Suguta Valley were ambushed and shot indiscriminately by heavily armed militiamen believed to have come from Turkana.

“They had stolen cattle from the neighbouring community in Samburu and failed to return them.  That is when the officers decided to pursue them,” one police officer briefed on the circumstances of the attack said.

The group had allegedly stolen cattle from Samburu on October 30 where 13 people were killed.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere led a high-powered security team to the scene on Monday where he announced that “everything will be done to ensure the killers are brought to book.”

He had been expected to fly back to Nairobi with the bodies of the slain officers and even ordered for ambulances and police vehicles to wait at the Wilson Airport but the arrangement was cancelled at the last minute.

Officers who had been mobilised to wait for the bodies at the airport told journalists they had been told to go back until Tuesday.

“We have been told to go back.  The bodies are not being flown here today,” one officer said adding “they have said the aircraft cannot fly at night until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning,” he said.

A major security operation was underway in search of missing officers who have not been seen since Saturday when the ambush occurred.

Another senior police officer involved in the search and rescue team told Capital FM News that up to 107 officers were pursuing the rustlers when the ambush occurred.

“Only 50 came back alive,” he said.

With the confirmed death of 42 officers, 15 remained missing.

“We do not know where they are but a major security operation is underway to find them, we hope to find them alive,” another officer said, optimistic that his colleagues are still alive more two days after the deadly ambush. “We are praying to find them alive.”

Nine other officers were recovering at the Kenyatta National hospital from wounds sustained in the attack which police headquarters said is the worst since independence.

Cattle theft and the ensuing clashes between rival pastoralist groups claim dozens of lives every year in arid northern Kenya.

However, it is rare for police officers to be attacked by rustlers.

The violence is not believed to be linked to politics, but it raises concerns over security and a lack of police capacity in volatile areas ahead of elections due to take place in March 2013.

  • Anonymous.

    Oh my God….it is terrible whats happening. I wonder why the hell the people there still keep cattle,its like a curse!! they will always have this issue.They should find something else they can do and forget about the stupid cows!!

    • Kamau

      like money? oh wait, that never works… what the rustlers need is a tall tree and a short rope to hang from

  • polman

    i really fail to understand why the government insists on treating these rustlers with kids gloves. these are armed men and must be treated as combatants, not thieves. it’s appalling, that after these people have slain our officers that ‘heavily armed’ security personnel are not set out to pursue them and to patrol the area..this is a joke…where were these heavy arms being kept before these brave sons of Kenya paid the ultimate price? Why are they being brought out now when the damage has already been done? only in Kenya. RIP to the fallen.

    • Arap Maru

      The media cannot now say that they were inexperienced cops hence the ambush and brutal killing. Experienced cops would have faced the same fate being out gunned and outnumbered. The valley is a labyrinth that only the experienced pokot, turkana and samburu warriors can navigate. the sweltering heat and terrain is harsh and there are no roads for our KDF guys to drive in. The raiders believe it or not are semi-nude and oiled so that the hooked two-sided thorns don’t hinder movement. Their sandals have a pointed back to fool trackers in to going the wrong way. Simply put, they are adapted to the terrain! If kenya send the army, they will not find anyone to fight since these are cattle raiders and are not interested in engaging the army (same reason why guerrilla warfare is most effective and hardest to beat). Unless the army are stationed in the unforgiving place they may not see any action at all and end up incurring unnecessary costs. The heat not withstanding plus the 30kg gear will limit movement in the thorny shrubs.

      We should however be discussing WHY they raid in the first place! its approaching the marriage season and the raiders are simply looking for dowry. this is the same for the tribes in the area all the way to S.Sudan and Ethiopia. The police may have been ill advised to go in to the valley with only 107 people well knowing that raiders attack with a force no less than 500. The cows are usually strapped a pouch on the under belly big enough for a man to lie in and even shoot while the cow moves. My point is ‘you are not dealing with primitive folk’ these are fearless battle hardened guys.

      i would urge the govt to think deep before engaging or more lives will be lost.

  • Boiyot

    This is really sad! The full force of the law should be applied not because they killed police officers, but because this has gone on long enough!
    How can they just keep on killing people like this? And the political leaders are nowhere to be seen or heard! NKT!
    God be with our police men/women as they go about this dangerous job of flushing those killers..

  • Chirison josy

    ONLY IN KENYA.THE KDF IN SOMALI HAS NOT LOST THIS KIND OF PERSONEL IN THEIR ENTIRE OPERATION LINDA NCHI.OOONNNLLLYYY IN KENYA.

  • Charles Moseti

    This is terrible and unbelievable. The Government know well about this area and the risks involved; Why can’t it take safety precautions for the officers on the ground seriously by equipping them with sophisticated weapons as those of bandits or even more?

    This is a great loss for the Government, Kenyans and for the family members which the government should not take kindly. Le the Gov. use all mechanisms available to track down these merciless killers and bring them to book. This is a sad moment for Kenyans !!

  • Anon

    Send in the KDF, scorched earth and put an end to this thing pronto. We need all the cops we can spare for the elections and if rustlers can mow down cops this way, no one is safe come election time. All we need is a couple of platoons out there to shoot anything that moves – see, the time for dialog is over.

  • Kilo

    I do not understand this? Does it mean that the Police administration does not even have a record of the number of officers that had been dispatched to the area? Has there been a record of the number of Police officers missing? If not, then how are the Police depts run then in this Country?

  • kriss

    I think this would have been a very successful mission of they sent a team of just about 12 elite soldiers and used a very clandestine tactic. Its sad that 42 police were killed….but we now need to realize that the raiders are probably as armed and experienced as a regular police man.

  • jaywambua

    The time to deploy ‘KDF’ IN KENYA is now. Enough with excuses…….. Kenyan fathers, brothers lives are being lost senselessly. If it was a mysterious disease I’d say God help us but in this case, apart from God’s help, someone somewhere is not doing their work and its costing us peoples lives!

  • bubble

    its unbelievable thts the rustlers are well armed than our kenya police

  • mercy

    it is really sad it is a dark moment for kenya, we have lost sons, fathers, may the almighty rest their souls in eternal peace, they died serving their country…RIP.

  • mathu

    My heart goes out to the families and relatives of the fallen Heros. There could have been some tactical oversights but we need to appreciate that the bandits are better equiped and its time we move KDF in to deal with this enemy in totality. Last year they had taken hostage of a police camp for 12hrs… this year they kill 40+ someone in Ministry of internal security better wake up!!! WHY SHOULD WE ALLOW THIS MADNESS TO CONTINUE?????

    Someone please end this chaos in this land.. from tana to Baragoi… Hon. Kibaki, PM? Please live up to your oaths of protecting KENYA!!!

    God Bless KENYA

  • http://twitter.com/NgothThomas thomas musembi ngoth

    Several questions remain without answers especially when local leaders start barring suggestions to deploy the KDF in the area to stop the vice. My suggestion is that the gvt should use all means at their disposal to disharm that achaic community and ensure even a pen knife is not left anywhere close to them. GOD bless the police force and KENYA indeed.

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