Gunmen killed at least 10 Kenyan security personnel and injured another 20 officers pursuing cattle rustlers in the north of the country, a police official said.
The attack was carried out yesterday by about 600 men in the village of Lomelok at Baragoi, about 342 kilometers (213 miles) north of the capital, Nairobi, John Mbijjiwe, the police chief for Rift Valley province, said in a phone interview. At least 10 police officers are missing, he said.
“The raiders waylaid our officers from various security units pursuing cattle rustlers in Lomelok area and they sprayed police lorries with bullets,” Mbijjiwe said. “The rescue is ongoing.”
Kenya’s arid northern region faces increasingly common cattle raids, inter-communal conflicts over resources and banditry, with such violence claiming more than 354 lives in 2009, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Cattle raids increase with the onset of the so-called short rains, which run from mid-October to December, when pastoralists restock their herds and rites of passage take place, according to its website.
The Baragoi area is inhabited by the Samburu and Turkana pastoralist communities.
Selina Nasoli, a resident of Lomelok, said some of the attackers were seen carrying away their casualties.
“We saw attackers carrying dead bodies and running away from the battlefield, while their counterparts were engaging Kenyan security and police reserves in fierce exchanges,” Nasoli said in a phone interview.
Residents have begun fleeing the area in fear of renewed attacks, Nasoli said.