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Youths attack, injure KFS officer in Kirisia Forest

Tuesday May 5 2020

GEOFFREY ONDIEKI
By GEOFFREY ONDIEKI
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A Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officer is nursing serious injuries after he was attacked by armed youths fighting the eviction of squatters from Kirisia Forest in Samburu County.

The officer was on patrol together with his colleagues when the youths attacked them. Samburu County Ecosystem Conservator Charles Ochieng said the officer sustained deep cuts on his right arm.

Mr Ochieng noted that squatters are stepping up their resistance and are arming themselves against KFS officers.

He said the KFS officer sustained deep cuts on his right arm when he was trying to defend himself from sharp swords that the attackers were using.

"We have received resistance from squatters who do not want to vacate the forest" Mr Ochieng said.

He alleged that the morans had been sent by leaders to stop the ongoing operation to restore the forest which lost its canopy when squatters encroached in the early 90s.

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He however said KFS officers will not be shaken in their quest to have the forest restored to its original state.

"We will not rest until Kirisia forest is fully restored and nobody will be spared," he said, adding that rangers are often threatened with spears, swords and bullets.

Mr Ochieng admitted that increased logging and encroachment is threatening the existence of Kirisia Forest which was gazetted as a government forest in 1936.

The official noted that squatters living there are still engaging in illegal activities degrading the forest, which is believed to be the biggest water catchment area in the North Rift.

On Saturday, squatters living in Kirisia Forest angrily uprooted over 10,000 seedlings that were planted by an initiative started by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.