Bandit attacks in troubled Laikipia County have claimed eight lives in the last one month, the government confirmed on Wednesday.
Speaking to members of the press Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said among those killed are three police officers enforcing security in the region and five civilians.
Further, four civilians and two cops have been injured in the attacks.
The police boss noted that the deaths happened before the state launched a major operation to flush out bandits from Laikipia Nature Conservancy and its environs on Tuesday.
“No arson incident, injuries, displacements or deaths have been reported (since the operation began). We have also provided security to those leaving the area so that they are not harassed,” said Natembeya further warning politicians against fuelling the clashes.
In a separate statement, Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso dismissed media reports that Mirigwiti Primary School was burnt down by the bandits insisting that only the store was set ablaze in a suspected arson.
“Contrary to media reports on 7th September 2021, a store belonging to Merigwiti Primary School containing wood and construction material caught fire but was promptly put out by security officers patrolling the vicinity. The fire slightly damaged the roof of the store but no injury was recorded,” he said.
“…Security patrols within the zone have intensified and mass exodus of illegal herders have been reported indicating success of the operation so far, with the security situation remaining calm.”
Earlier, former Laikipia North Member of Parliament Mathew Lempurkel was arrested in connection with insecurity in the area.
Lempurkel was arrested at his home in Rongai, Kajiado County, on Wednesday and whisked to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters in Nairobi for questioning.
The clashes are common in Laikipia. Heavily armed bandits operate in the area with impunity intimidating ranch owners and stealing their livestock.
Pastoralists in the area claim that the huge tracts of land owned by the ranchers were their ancestral land.