Kenya: cattle rustlers bring war to Rift Valley

Hundreds of people have fled as Kenya mobilized military forces to hunt for cattle rusters after the bandits killed over 30 local police officers in Samburu district, Rift Valley province. (See map). Members of the Turkana people near Baragoi town have fled into the bush fearing reprisals after a heavily armed gang that stole cattle from the rival Samburu tribe launched an ambush against a police patrol over the weekend, using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades—described as the worst attack on police in Kenya’s history. Villagers started fleeing after trucks arrived with hundreds of troops from the Kenya Defence Forces, backing up paramilitary and regular police forces. The military issued a blunt warning ahead of the deployment, saying cattle raiders should be prepared “to die because it is easy for the government to compensate their loss of life.” The Kenyan Human Rights Commission‘s Samuel Tororei condemned the remarks, saying: “The police should have issued a warning, urging the rustlers to stop their criminal acts, but threatening them with death is against human rights principles.” (DWReutersCapital FM, Nairobi, Nov. 14)