Pokot bandits burn Laikipia's Mukutan Retreat in revenge on police

Three houses that were burnt by armed herders in Sosian Ranch in March /COURTESY
Three houses that were burnt by armed herders in Sosian Ranch in March /COURTESY

Pokot bandits raided Mukutan Retreat on Laikipia Nature Conservancy on Wednesday, burning property and leaving several people injured.

This was revenge for operations on LNC, owned by conservationist Kuki Gallman, which allegedly involved police officers shooting of invaders' cattle - a charge denied by IG Joseph Boinnet but confirmed by witnesses.

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A source said two police officers managed to escaped but that one sustained injuries. Kuki told NTV that her daughter had been shot at.

The source called for help saying there were no other officers at the retreat and that they feared the bandits would kill in a night of violence.

Reports indicated that more than 50 invaders were streaming in from Kaptuya in Baringo, the power base of Churo/Amaya MCA Thomas Minito. Minito has been termed a militant MCA and was allegedly seen whipping up trespassers on Wednesday.

Residents have accused him of instigating much of the violence across Western Laikipia in recent months with two other Pokot and Samburu MPs.

The ward representative once cited a boundary dispute with the Ilchamus and asked leaders to address this for peace to be achieved.

Pokot invaders attacked an LNC camp at Engelesha three days ago, looting a manager's house and burning a large tractor.

Reports say the attackers aim to burn whatever they can on the conservancy.

The invaders have also threatened to attack the police station at Ol Moran. They want to fight the government because they defy orders to move out of private lands which they have overrun violently in recent months.

Landowners in Laikipia have been repeatedly left alone to face the anger of raiders as police officers move on after allegedly shooting cattle belonging to invaders.

The ranchers have nothing to do with this strategy because they know it inflames more violence.

The burning of houses on Sosian lodge and the murder of Tristan Voorspuy happened after police targeted cattle instead of going after heavily armed militias.

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Seven out of 30 tourism lodges in Laikipia have closed since Christmas due to violent attacks.

Mukutan is the second tourism lodge to be burned by attackers in January.

Many homes, including those of smallholders and the poor,

have also been burned.

Thousands have been displaced and some 30 people have been murdered.

Four thousand jobs and billions in taxes depend on the Laikipia tourism businesses that are now in ruins.

Farmers in the county have asked the government to intensify the disarmament of illegal firearm holders in northern Kenya.

The exercise started last month after herders shot Laikipia West OCPD Merengo Moherai in the chest when he led an operation to recover animals stolen from Kifuku ranch.

Various estimates place the number of illegal firearms in Baringo, Isiolo, Samburu and other counties neighbouring Laikipia at 25,000, mostly in the hands of pastoralists.

The association said in February that it wants a special prosecution unit and a mobile court set up for speedy action against illegal trespassers.

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