Seven bandits armed with guns yesterday evening raided children herding livestock and tied them to trees before getting away with over 200 goats and unknown number of cows and donkeys in Tharaka-North Sub-County.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and police officers led by Meru National Park Senior Warden Mr Bakari Chongwa and Tharaka-North Sub County Police Commander Mr Benson Makumbi are pursuing the criminals inside the park where they vanished with the animals.
Mr Makumbi told the media that the children later managed to return home but police were yet to ascertain how many they were and whether they are all safe.
Mr Chongwa told the Nation on Monday morning that the children were herding livestock inside the park when the bandits struck.
“The bandits must have tied the children to ensure that they don’t immediately inform their parents of the attack,” said Mr Chongwa.
He said at around 7pm, the officers managed to apprehend the criminals while crossing Kioru River about 20 kilometers from where the livestock were stolen and engaged them in a shoot-out but were not able to recover the animals because it was already late and there was heavy downpour.
He said on Monday morning KWS officers conducting aerial survey sighted some livestock crossing from the park to Isiolo County and alerted their colleagues on ground.
Mr Sabastian Mwangangi, a resident has urged the government to recruit Kenya Police Reservists (KPL) in the region to help curb the banditry attacks that he says have rendered the locals poor.
He said many people have lost lives, others left with gun-shot injuries and thousands of animals stolen in the region for a period spanning several years and the problem still persists.
“People here are very hard working but they are frequently attacked by bandits of Somali origin and all their livestock and food stolen,” said Mr Mwangangi.