Video:Kibaki sends army after Baragoi police killers
The country’s top security body has authorised the military to join the hunt for cattle rustlers who killed security officers in an ambush in Baragoi, Samburu District.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service said the National Security Council, chaired by President Mwai Kibaki, condemned the attack on the law enforcement officers.
“In this connection, the Council authorised the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to be deployed in Samburu County and other areas to provide support to Kenya Police Service in apprehending the bandits and recovering stolen animals and arms,” the statement said.
The meeting, attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, directed all national security organs to liaise closely in restoring peace and security in the area.
It also ordered a mop-up of illegal arms in pastoral areas and condoled with the families of the slain officers.
The statement said 24 police officers and eight Kenya Police Reservists were killed in the ambush, while eight police officers and three Kenya Police Reservists are admitted to Kenyatta.
However, independent sources put the figure of those killed at 39. This came hours before two more bodies were found on Tuesday and three officers who have been missing resurfaced. (READ: Death toll in Samburu attack now at 37)
Earlier, Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere said the attackers will face the full force of the law in a drive that will also mop up illegal guns in all pastoral areas that are prone to cattle-rustling and conflicts over pasture.
“These are things that should never happen. I think they were testing the waters and very soon they will know the depth of the river,” Mr Iteere said shortly after 24 bodies of the ill-fated officers were flown to Nairobi.
Mr Iteere said a contingent of 102 officers comprising regular police and reservists had been dispatched to pursue the raiders suspected to have been from the Turkana community and recover about 500 stolen cattle.
He dismissed claims that the police officers were not adequately armed, saying: “This was an ambush and even the best trained and armed officers anywhere in the world would find it difficult when ambushed. Everything was well-laid.”
Internal Security assistant minister Alfred Khang’ati said the government will work with neighbouring countries to disarm herders and border communities in a bid to restore peace.
“We are going to ensure that guns that are still out there are recovered and the exercise will be continuous because we don’t want guns to be in the hands of dangerous people who will use them to harm our people,” Mr Khang’ati said.
The Baragoi problem began on October 20, when Turkana warriors raided their Samburu neighbours and stole more than 500 cattle and goats. The Samburu struck in a revenge attack and drove away 297 camels.
The government responded by sending a contingent of GSU, regular and Administration Police officers, who were ambushed, resulting in the weekend massacre.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga condemned the killing saying it was unacceptable to attack security officers with such abandon. He said the government had taken decisive action to end cattle rustling in northern Kenya.
“As a government we have a duty to protect people’s lives and property and we shall not shirk from that responsibility,” he said.
He spoke in Nairobi when he presided over a Ford Foundation award gala for democracy champions. The foundation’s president, Mr Luis Ubinas, attended the gala. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka described the killings as most unfortunate and highly regrettable.