ATTACK

2 GSU officers killed by bandits at Laikipia Nature Conservancy

In Summary

• A police inspector sustained gunshot injuries during the incident.

• According to police, the officers were confronted by the bandits a short distance from Kamwenje police base in Laikipia West prompting a fierce shootout.

Crime scene
Crime scene
Image: THE STAR

Two General Service Unit officers were on Wednesday shot dead in a fierce shootout with bandits at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

A police inspector sustained gunshot injuries during the incident.

According to police, the officers were confronted by the bandits a short distance from Kamwenje police base in Laikipia West prompting a fierce shootout.

It is not clear if there were deaths on the side of the bandits.

A reinforcement arrived there minutes later and rescued their colleagues who had been trapped and were calling for help.

Police in the area said the attackers were armed with rifles and were ready for a war.

The injured officer was evacuated for medical attention. GSU are paramilitary officers and are believed to be well trained like those from Border Patrol Unit who have been deployed there.

Rift Valley police boss Francis Ochieng confirmed the Wednesday incident and added they were pursuing the gang behind it.

“We have reinforcements on the ground pursuing the attackers,” he said.

The incident comes at a time when more personnel have been deployed to the area to flush out armed herders who have invaded private ranches for pasture.

This has prompted fighting between the security agents and the gunmen. Up to 15 police officers have been killed and ten others injured in the past five months in the violence in the area.

On October 28, three police officers were killed in the same area in an ambush.

The officers were patrolling the expansive conservancy when they were ambushed by a gunman believed to be a sniper.

Authorities said the officers were riding in an armored vehicle when they came under attack.

The driver of the vehicle panicked and lost its control forcing it to overturn. And as the occupants stepped out of the vehicle thinking it was safe, they were shot at by a gunman who escaped from the vicinity.

The government has been ordering the herders in the private ranches to leave but some have defied the orders.

An operation was mounted in the area following repeated attacks on locals and security agencies by gunmen believed to be herders.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i led a high delegation to oversee ongoing operation in the area against armed men.

Matiang’i commissioned the construction of new sub county headquarters to enhance operations.

Chief of Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi had also landed in troubled area and assured locals of security. 

As part of efforts to restore order, Matiang’i announced the creation of a police division at Ol Moran with enough officers to patrol.

Ol-Moran was gazetted as the headquarter for Kirima sub-county.

He said two additional police stations will be established in the flash point zones

There will also be additional National Police Reservists to recruited and deployed in disturbed areas, he said.

Further, 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 neighboring counties.

The CS said there will be deployment of surveyors to Laikipia to expedite titling process and review/recommend action on lapsed leases or those about to lapse.

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

The attackers had been torching houses and other amenities including schools.

The CS said the operation will involve a multi-agency team, all responses will be coordinated and address the real drivers of conflict, beyond the fight for pasture and water.