NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 5 – Police have dismissed accusations of wanton killing of livestock belonging to pastoralist communities in Laikipia County.
In a statement, Police Spokesman George Kinoti stated that the animals were caught in crossfire as officers were engaging illegal herders who had invaded private ranches.
“In response and to defend themselves, in the ensuing exchange of fire, many of the livestock were killed. This is the incident being referred to in the media and by some politicians as ‘wanton’ killing of livestock. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Kinoti stated that the armed herders chose to use their cows as a shield while firing at the police.
“In execution of its mandate to maintain law and order, the National Police Service and other security agencies launched a security operation to drive out illegal herders from the county. The operation has been successful despite the many social and political challenges the operation has faced.”
He stated that 16 AK-47 rifles, one M-16, one Carbine and several thousands of ammunitions were recovered following the operation.
“In the last few weeks, some herders from a neighboring county have returned and forced their way into some private ranches. When police officers attempted to drive them out, a large group of armed men engaged the Police officers in a shootout while taking cover among the livestock,” he stated.
He pointed out that the illegal herders have in the last four months killed eight police officers, injured 14 including three innocent civilians and destroyed property worth hundreds of millions of shillings.
He indicated that if not halted, this would undermine the very foundations of our country based on democracy, the rule of law and a free market economy.
The police had been accused of killing over 300 livestock belonging to pastoralist communities.
The incident has caused condemnation by the pastoralist communities, with various leaders accusing the police of employing unlawful means to evict them from the ranches.