Barely a week after President William Ruto issued a stern warning to cattle rustlers, two people were Friday shot dead by raiders and more than 300 goats stolen in a village in Laikipia North Sub-county.
Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri confirmed the killing of a woman during a cattle rustling-related incident at 1am, while police sources told the Nation that a man was shot dead near Naibor Police Post around 10am on Friday
In the first incident, the raiders suspected to have come from the neighbouring Samburu County, invaded Naibor village on Friday morning where they killed the woman before driving away 100 sheep and goats.
In the second incident, some 300 goats and sheep were stolen.
“I have not received reports of more deaths so I can only confirm the death of the woman who was killed by armed raiders at Naibor village at 1am on Friday. The raiders stole the animals and escaped towards Samburu County,” said Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri.
Mr Kanyiri said following the 1am attack, security forces backed by National Police Reserves (NPR) pursued the raiders for four hours but did not recover the stolen animals.
With the animal recovery bearing zero fruits, the affected community reportedly armed themselves and launched an attack on members of the rival community residing in Laikipia North Sub-County.
By Friday afternoon, locals reported sporadic sounds of gunfire in the area with fears that the clashes would result in more casualties.
Parents hurriedly withdrew their pupils from a local school as the clashes spread to Muwarak Trading Centre along the Rumuruti-Maralal highway.
Mr Kanyiri said security forces has been mobilized and deployed to the area in an effort to restore peace in area where tension has been rising in the last few days following a cattle rustling incident that occurred at a village in Samburu County last weekend and which coincided with President Ruto’s visit to the region.
Even as President Ruto warned that the Government would spare no effort in its fight against cattle rustling and banditry, Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda raised concern over the level of impunity displayed by the criminals.
“This morning I received a message that there was an attack and a family lost 200 goats and sheep and that was their livelihood. On the eve President Ruto was in Baragoi, an attack happened …the president was tough talking, he said “don’t try me,” he has been dared this morning. There’s so much impunity in the North, like mta-do?” Ms Lesuuda tweeted.
Incidents of armed conflicts arising from competition for pasture and water are common in Laikipia where they are perpetuated by migrating pastoralists from Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo counties. The communities also engage in cattle rustling activities.
In 2009, more than 30 people were killed by raiders within the Naibor area and livestock tolen. The raid commonly referred to as the “Kanampiu Massacre “is among the bloodiest cattle rustling raids to have been recorded in Laikipia County in recent time.