Gunfire lasted about five hours between police and bandits who ambushed the officers as they sought to recover stolen cattle along the Meru-Isiolo border.
The officers comprising GSU, APs and those from RDU were led in the operation by Tigania East subcounty commander Peter Karanja.
They were pursuing animals stolen between Friday and Monday.
The bandits fired first, forcing reporters covering the mission to scamper for safety. Some sustained injuries from stones in the valley. Police officers were also injured. The area has valleys and hills.
The gunfire that started at about 11.30am ended at 4pm. No animals were recovered, although police repulsed the bandits. Karanja did not speak to journalists after the mission.
On Tuesday night, the bandits raided the home of Mutai M’Mukundia and stole 26 cows.
Nine cows and a donkey were stolen on Monday night from another home. While 15 out of 24 cows belonging to Meru North Peace Committee chairman Charles Kamwibua were recovered by Sunday, the rest are said to have been seen with the bandits.
Kamwibua said since the Natiaonal Police Reservists in Meru were disarmed, Meru herders have lost approximately 700 goats and 150 cows to bandits.
He urged Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Meru county commissioner Allan Machari and Interior CS Fred Matiang’I to arm former governor Peter Munya’s trained officers who idle at the county headquarters as enforcement officers.
“Nine of my cows can’t be traced since Saturday and as a follow up rescue mission, at Riamui we were met with fierce fire. Why were our NPR disarmed whereas the rustlers remain with sophisticated guns? Is it a government inside job to make us poor? We ask the Interior Minister Fred Matiang’I to intervene and conduct a thorough operation to disarm them and recover our stolen cattle,” Kamwibua said on Wednesday.
Last week, Governor Kiraitu and county commissioner Allan Machari sharply differed on the NPR disarmament and security lapses in the county.
Machari maintained that the disarmed reservists will not be given back their rifles to help fight against bandits until the ongoing vetting is completed and final orders from Interior ministry are given.
Kiraitu said the reservists can’t undergo a thorough training and remain idle while attacks are being launched in some parts of the county.
In the last one month, three people have been killed in Meru in retaliatory attacks by bandits.
Trade CS Peter Munya’s relative Akindoo M’Imathiu was shot dead at Lanyiru in Tigania East.