What you need to know:
- Armed raiders killed two county employees at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.
- The residents said at least 1,600 homes were torched in a security operation on Saturday evening.
- Police have denied villagers accusation that they torched the houses to flush out the bandits.
- Security officers also said they were targeting residents who have encroached on private land.
Hundreds of houses have been burnt down at Kisiriri and Rumuruti in Laikipia County.
Local residents on Saturday pointed the finger at police officers who are hunting for armed raiders who shot and killed two county employees at the expansive Laikipia Nature Conservancy run by renowned conservationist Kuki Gallman.
But police have denied the villagers’ accusation, saying they have nothing to do with the torching of their houses.
The residents said at least 1,600 homes were torched in a security operation on Saturday evening.
According to the villagers, a contingent of General Service Unit (GSU), Kenya Police Reservists and Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) officers stormed the areas where they burnt houses and destroyed property estimated at millions of shillings.
The villagers alleged the security officers looted property and took away livestock in the operation.
“The security officers raided our homes and looted our belongings including chicken and goats before torching our houses. Most of the occupants are herders from pastoralist communities,” said an elder who sought anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The elder disclosed that security officers accompanied by the area chief had on Thursday surveyed the village prior to the Saturday raid.
“We have never received an eviction notice from anyone. We don’t know the boundary between the Jennings Farm and our village as no one has never invited a surveyor to survey the land and mark the boundaries,” added the elder.
Mr Peter Lenosotu, another villager, noted that he incurred huge losses as the security officers burnt down his granary.
“They burnt down my granary where I had stored my maize. I have been reduced to a beggar as I don’t have anything to feed my children with. We were never given time to pack our belonging from our houses,” he added.
Ms Sarah Lankas told Nation her one-year-old child was rescued by a neighbour from their burning house.
"I had left my son sleeping in the house when a group of security officers raided the village and burnt several houses. My son was rescued by a well-wisher who heard him crying," said Ms Lankas.
However, security heads in the region have denied the alleged looting but maintained that those who have illegally invaded private property in the region were the target.
Laikipia County Administration Police Commander, Mr Benson Maweu, said a contingent of security personnel that was deployed in the region is pursuing criminals causing havoc in the region.
“We have strategized on how to tackle the armed bandits, terrorising residents in the region and we are optimistic of arresting the criminals, ” said Mr Maweu.
The operation comes a day after two people,an employee of the Laikipia County government and a forester, were shot dead by armed raiders while on official duty at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.
Laikipia West Sub-County administrator Ikinya Matindi who had accompanied the two was also shot and seriously injured and is recuperating at the Nyahururu County Referral Hospital.
Mr Maweu, revealed that security officers have already sealed possible exit routes for the bandits along Laikipia-Baringo border at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.
The residents have faulted the operation on grounds that it is aimed at punishing them.
“Why should police who are supposed to restore peace harm people and destroy and steal our property instead of restoring sanity,” posed Mr Joseph Nadokila.