Police kill gunman, recover M16 rifle in operation in Laikipia

State has ordered all non-residents within the county's security operation area to leave

In Summary
  • There is an ongoing investigation into the source of the weapon, which is rare in the country.
  • Internal CS Matiang’i says additional special forces and equipment under the heightened command will be deployed to contain the wanton attacks. 
The M16 rifle with bullets that police said was recovered in Laikipia on October 13 in ongoing operation - NPS
The M16 rifle with bullets that police said was recovered in Laikipia on October 13 in ongoing operation - NPS
Image: NPS

Police conducting an operation in Laikipia killed a gunman and recovered an M16 rifle with 25 bullets.

Officials said the man was in the company of others and had tried to steal animals in Ntimnariwo sub-location at the border of Laikipia and Samburu counties when the operation was launched.

The animals stolen were all recovered. This comes days after three people were killed in the Nga’rua area by gunmen who tried to steal their animals before they were repulsed. The multiagency operation is ongoing in the region.

Meanwhile, the government has ordered all non-residents within Laikipia county’s security operation area to leave as part of efforts to enforce peace and stability.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said Tuesday an immediate enhancement of the ongoing security operation will be undertaken in the affected area.

More security personnel were ferried to the area to launch a new operation on Wednesday. Matiangí said additional special forces and equipment under the heightened command will be deployed. 

The CS said the government notes with grave concern that despite its efforts to enforce peace and stability in Laikipia, hardcore bandits continue to take advantage of the prevailing drought situation in neighbouring counties to commit criminal incursions.

Matiang'i said despite the enhanced presence of security teams, criminals are still trying to challenge the government’s resolve to restore normalcy and the economic livelihoods of residents.

He said this will not be tolerated and that a special command team to monitor and continuously review the operation to rid the area of criminal elements has been put in place.

The October 10 attack prompted police headquarters to also make an announcement to the effect that: teams on the ground were reviewing their approach to areas that were initially perceived to be of low risks of attacks. The decision is to ensure that lives and properties are protected as those in high-risk areas.

The military is among the multiagency teams on the ground conducting an operation in the area.

This followed the visit to the area by security chiefs in September led Matiang’i, Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi and Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai.

They camped in the area for three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the operation to be carried out within a week.

The operation started with the declaration of a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Laikipia Nature Conservancy after the National Security Council meeting at State House, Nairobi.

Matiang’i said Laikipia Nature Conservancy and its environs had been immediately declared as a disturbed area and therefore a security operation zone.

He also gazetted the creation of a new administrative subcounty in the Ol Moran area and named it Kirima to tackle insecurity in the area.

This creation is expected to bring government and security agencies closer to the backwaters of Sipili and Ng'arua.

Further, he said a training base for elite police units will be established in the area to enhance police presence and serve as a buffer zone between Laikipia residents and invaders from neighbouring counties.

There will be a deployment of surveyors to Laikipia to expedite the titling process and review or recommend action on expired leases or those about to elapse.

“We will engage relevant ministries and agencies on the ideal management of the Laikipia Conservancy to mitigate its attraction as a conflict hotspot,” Matiang'i said.

The security chiefs landed in the area as multiagency teams intensified operations to flush out gunmen on private ranches who are blamed on causing at least 10 deaths, including three police officers, and displacing thousands who are now in churches and schools.

The attackers have been torching houses and other amenities, prompting heavy deployment.