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Journalists, county officials assaulted by Tana River GSU officers

Saturday April 18 2015

NTV journalist Nehemiah Okwembah. He was

NTV journalist Nehemiah Okwembah. He was attacked by GSU officers with his Citizen tv counterpart in Tana River. FILE PHOTO 

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Two journalists were Saturday attacked and badly injured by General Services Unit (GSU) personnel for visiting a village in Tana River County to check on locals who had claimed to had been attacked by the same officers.

The GSU officers attacked Nation journalist Nehemiah Okwembah and and a Citizen tv cameraman Rueben Ogachi at Bombi on the outskirt of Agricultural Development Cooperation(ADC) Kulalu Galana Ranch.

Also injured were Tana River governor Hussein Dado’s political advisor Abaroba Barisa, a communication official Ali Wario and a driver who suffered multiple head injuries.

He said they were attacked after visiting the village and interviewed locals who complained that on Friday the GSU officers drove away 200 of their cattle for allegedly trespassing into the expansive Galana Ranch.

According to Mr Okwemba, the security personnel started attacking them when they were about to interview the Agricultural Development Cooperation(ADC) on the issue.



“We had gone to interview the management to get their side of the story because the herders had told us the GSU who were manning the farm had taken away their animals,” added Mr Okwemba.

He said the armed GSU personnel descended on them with rungus, kicks and blows before destroying their video cameras.

“We were attacked despite displaying our press cards. They beat us like dogs and our cameras were all destroyed,” added Mr Okwemba on phone.

When asked, Coast Regional police boss Robert Kitur said he is not aware that journalists were beaten by GSU officers.

“As we are speaking, I am arriving in Mombasa from Nairobi what I know is that there were herders who had taken their cattle to graze at the ADC ranch. We sent our officers to contain the situation. It is against the law to graze in a plantation, it is not a grazing land. There are some herders whom we have also arrested,” he added.

Mr Okwemba who was speaking from ADC Galana ranch dispensary where they went to seek treatment said he sustained severe hands, ribs and leg injuries.

His colleague from the Citizen television, Mr Ruben, briefly told the Sunday Nation that he suspected to have sustained a broken right leg.

“I suspect my right leg is completely broken…. I am now being carried by good Samaritans to the dispensary,” said Mr Ruben before quickly asking Mr Okwemba to take the phone.
Tana River Governor Hussein Dado said he dispatched two senior officials and a driver to assess the situation at the village on receiving reports that the GSU officers had injured villagers and taken away their cattle.
Mr Dado dispatch another county team to provide help to the injured journalists and his senior officials and pledged to make further statements once he meet them.