Turkana herders cry foul over police operation

Sunday February 21 2016

A herder and his cattle stand in a pool of water along the Isiolo-Merti road on November 6, 2015. Herders from the Turkana community in Isiolo are crying foul following a pollice operation on February 19, 2016 in which 230 cows were seized in Attan in an exercise meant to identify stolen animals. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A herder and his cattle stand in a pool of water along the Isiolo-Merti road on November 6, 2015. Herders from the Turkana community in Isiolo are crying foul following a pollice operation on February 19, 2016 in which 230 cows were seized in Attan in an exercise meant to identify stolen animals. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By VIVIAN JEBET
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Herders from the Turkana community in Isiolo are crying foul following Saturday’s police operation in which 230 cows were seized in Attan in an exercise meant to identify stolen animals.

The animals were on Friday rounded up to aid in the recovery of 68 cows stolen from Meru herders in Kandebene, Tigania East last Wednesday.

A Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) was shot dead and his firearm stolen during the attack.

More than 100 herders from the Turkana community camped at Isiolo stadium on Friday night awaiting the release of their animals.

The animals are under tight security by police.

Mr Christopher Akuye, a Turkana herder, accused police of subjecting them to unnecessary punishment instead of dealing with criminals.

He denied claims that the community was hiding rustlers and challenged the security officers to arrest those criminals.

They also accused police of physical harassment while driving the animals from their manyattas.

The Meru herders, also camping at the stadium’s gate, claimed to have identified at least 10 of their stolen animals among the animals.

Seventeen suspected raiders were arrested in connection with cattle theft.

Isiolo Deputy County Commissioner Kipchumba Rutto said the animals seized will be held until all the 68 cows stolen during the raid in Tigania East are returned.

He said Isiolo and Meru security teams were pursuing other attackers.

“We will not release the animals until the 68 stolen cattle are returned to their rightful owners and criminals identified. We will secure all animals until the matter is resolved,” said Mr Rutto.