Armed herders in Laikipia County have killed 23 people including eight police officers in the last six months in dispute over grazing land.
While defending the killing of cattle by police officers last week, Laikipia County Commissioner Onesmus Musyoki said security officers would not be cowed by protests by politicians.
Mr Musyoki said efforts to protect private property will continue, noting that four tourist lodges have been razed by herders from Isiolo and Samburu counties this year.
He disputed claims that 300 cattle were last week shot dead by police officers in Ratia Village, adding that 75 animals died in the shooting.
“The invading herders have shot dead eight police officers and 15 civilians in the last six months but we have not heard politicians complaining.
“But when security officers kill livestock while pursuing the bandits, we are accused of destroying the livelihoods of the pastoralists,” said Mr Musyoki.
He added, “Herders who confront security officers with firearms must be prepared to face the full force of the law.”
Mr Musyoki who addressed the media in his office, flanked by County Police Commander Simon Kipkeu, claimed the livestock being grazed in private ranches belongs to politicians and senior people in government and that his office is currently compiling a list of those behind the invasions.
“The cattle belongs to senior police officers, politicians and a senior officer in the Judiciary. We are compiling a list of the cattle owners and we shall soon make it public,” he said.
Politicians led by Governor Ndiritu Muriithi recently said herders who have invaded private farms must leave immediately.
“During the last 15 months, over 2,500 smallholder farmers in Ngobit, Pesi, Ol Moran, Matwiku and Miteta areas have lost all their property to the armed herders. No amount of propaganda, abuse, name calling or underhand tactics will stop the full enforcement of the rule of law,” said Mr Muriithi.
Other leaders who have urged security officers not to relent in the operation to kick out the herders include Laikipia Senator John Kinyua and Deputy Governor John Mwaniki.