Herders in Meru have called for the re-arming of police reservists stationed along the northern grazing zone of the county, following a fierce gun battle between raiders and police pursuing stolen livestock.
Meru Peace Initiative Chairman Charles Kamwibua said many herders have been killed and livestock lost to the cattle rustlers since the 25 police reservists employed by the county government were disarmed.
Speaking a day after police pursuing stolen livestock were ambushed by armed raiders, Mr Kamwibua observed that herders in Meru County do not have guns yet neighbouring pastoralist communities are armed.
Mr Kamwibua said they have already lost close to 1,000 goats and sheep, 168 cows and 21 donkeys to the bandits from neighbouring counties since May 2019.
On Saturday, armed raiders stole 24 cows belonging to Mr Kamwibua.
As they pursued them, the officers from GSU, RDU and AP were ambushed at Daaba, along the Meru-Isiolo boarder.
The bandits engaged the officers in a shootout that lasted for over four hours.
This is the second time in a month that police officers have encountered gun-toting raiders as they went on a mission to recover stolen livestock.
Mid-last month, police gunned down a suspected cattle rustler, arrested another and recovered a rifle following a heavy gunfire in Murutui, near the Meru-Isiolo boarder.
The contingent of officers was pursuing raiders suspected to be from Turkana, who shot and killed a Meru herder in Lanyiru and fled with 109 goats.
Mzee Akindo M’Imathiu, 68, was attacked by the raiders as he was returning home with his goats.
The police officers, led by Tigania East Police Boss Peter Karanja, were following the animal footprints when they were ambushed by the armed raiders.
Gambela Location Chief Joseph Ekotha said the raiders numbering about 20 were armed with firearms and had shot at the police who were taking cover.
Insecurity has spread in the area, with several people killed and others injured and livestock stolen.
Two weeks ago, armed raiders who were forcibly grazing their camels in the farms, shot dead Peter Loolo as he walked home in Ntangilia.