A matatu driver died Sunday night when armed cattle rustlers sprayed his vehicle with bullets after he obstructed the stolen animals’ way near Maili Tatu, in Meru along the restive Meru-Isiolo border.
Mr Henry Kinyua was heading home after retiring from work, when he encountered the rustlers who were driving the herds of cattle, and blocked their way with headlights on.
The angry cattle thieves opened fire on the vehicle, hitting Mr Kinyua in the head, causing him to lose control of the vehicle near the infamous Subuiga black spot landing in a ditch.
Buuri East police boss Joseph Oduor said the driver was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Isiolo Level Five hospital where he had been rushed by police following the 2am incident.
The officer said a female passenger who was in the vehicle escaped unhurt, but shaken by the brutal murder.
He said the raiders had stolen six herds of cattle and 25 goats belonging to Mr Paul Murithi in Rwathene village, Ruiri Rwarera in Buuri East and fled on foot.
Quick action by police led to the recovery of four of the stolen herds of cattle and all the 25 goats in an operation that went on until dawn.
However, the raiders suspected to be from Isiolo county evaded arrest.
The incident came two days after security and political leaders from Meru and Isiolo counties signed a peace agreement pledging to end cattle rustling between communities living there.
The security teams along Meru-Isiolo border have been on high alert following a new wave of cattle rustling as area pastoralist communities seek to restock livestock they lost during the dry spell.
Meru County Commissioner Fred Ndunga said the criminal activities intensified following the onset of rains where several raiders are storming the northern grazing zone, driving off dozens of livestock.
Last month Interior CS Kithure Kindiki promised promised the region additional 174 national police reservists to raise the number to 200.
He urged local leaders to start vetting possible NPR candidates, who will be trained and given arms to boost security in the area.
Prof Kindiki also announced plans to re-organize deployment of all area police formations to increase the strength of other specialized units like GSU, anti-stock theft unit and RDU which operate there.
The government also promised to supply local police stations with vehicles to boost patrols for maintenance of law and order.