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Roundup: Kenyan police shot dead 2 suspects over attack on Italian-born conservationist

Xinhua, April 24, 2017 Adjust font size:

Kenyan authorities said on Monday that the police shot dead two suspects in Baringo County in northwest region behind the shooting of Italian-born conservationist and author Kuki Gallmann in neighboring Laikipia region.

Interior Ministry Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the police also recovered a gun which has been taken for ballistic tests to establish if it was used in the attack against Gallmann on Saturday night.

Nkaiserry said the suspects were killed at Mukutani area, about 20kms from Laikipia Nature Conservancy which is owned by Gallmann, who is being treated in Nairobi.

"The two suspects were killed in Makutani area in Baringo over the shooting of conservationist Kuki Gallmann and a gun recovered. We have taken the weapon for ballistic tests," Nkaiserry told journalists in Nairobi.

Gallmann owns about 360 sq km in Laikipia, which is home to rare wildlife, birds and trees. Her organization also runs community, education, arts and sports projects.

The incident comes amid insecurity which has risen sharply in recent months as a drought has led armed herders to seek out new pasture, pitting them against big landowners and smallholders.

Tens of thousands of cattle are thought to have been driven onto private land and at least a dozen people have been killed.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said the two have not been linked directly to the shooting, but investigations are underway to establish if they were involved.

"We are investigating if the two bandits were involved in the shooting. They were shot dead at Mukutani area about 15 kilometers from where Gullmann was shot," Boinett told a local radio station.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has condemned the attack on the conservationist and all other violence that has taken place in recent months in Laikipia and Baringo counties in the recent past.

Godec called on the government to take stern action on the perpetrators of the attack on the Italian and urged Kenyans to shun violence.

"Violence is never the answer. I urge all Kenyans to refrain from violence and urge the government to take strong action to hold accountable all those responsible for the attacks and uphold the rule of law," Godec said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The armed pastoralists from the Pokot, Maasai and Samburu communities have caused insecurity in the area, attacking some of the white-owned ranchers in Laikipia.

The herders have been forcing themselves into the ranch with their livestock in search of pasture and burnt down the lodge and the main gate.

The invaders have brought death and destruction in the region, threatening not just farming but the future of wildlife conservation in Kenya.

The ranch is home to the largest concentrations of wildlife in the Laikipia ecosystem. The ranch is one of the biggest in the county.

The attacks are linked to suspected Pokot and Samburu herdsmen who have invaded ranches in Laikipia en masse with their cattle.

Laikipia area is increasingly becoming a conflict zone as people and wildlife are killed with impunity, livestock stolen, houses razed and property looted. Endit