Police have killed a suspected cattle rustler and recovered 27 stolen livestock in Longewan, Samburu West.
According to Samburu County Police Commander Samson Ogelo, an M16 rifle and 25 rounds of ammunition were also recovered during the operation.
He said that the rustler was part of a gang of bandits that had raided the area and drove away 27 head of cattle, which were successfully recovered.
“The gang of rustlers that we believe is part of many that have been terrorising the residents had carried out a raid in the evening and drove away cattle, prompting our security forces to be on high alert. They responded swiftly and killed one of the criminals in a gun battle. All the animals have been recovered," Mr Ogelo said on Wednesday.
Police officers were informed of the cattle raid and waylaid the gang at a nearby bush where they exchanged fire for more than one hour. During the fierce gunfight, one of the criminals was killed as several others escaped.
Tracking other criminals
Mr Ogelo said a contingent of police officers from the Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) are still pursuing the other criminals who escaped during the incident.
“Our officers are tracking those who escaped. We will bring them to book," Mr Ogelo added.
The police boss assured residents that security in the area has been beefed up and urged them to report suspicious characters to authorities.
"None of my officers was injured, but we suspect some of the cattle rustlers could have sustained gunshot wounds. We are appealing to members of the public to assist us with information so that we can arrest the suspects,” Mr Ogelo said.
The body of the slain bandit is lying at the Samburu County Referral Hospital mortuary.
Numerous cattle raids in the region have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. Viewed as a cultural practice among Samburu pastoralists, cattle rustling has changed profoundly in the last few years and is now characterised by use of modern weaponry.
Over the past two days, about six people have died with six others sustaining gunshot injuries during cattle raids and retaliation attacks in Porro and Suguta Mar Mar areas.