The Star (Nairobi)

13 November 2012

Kenya: Baragoi Police Death Toll Hits 32

The number of police officers killed in an attack against them in Baragoi, Samburu now stands at 32. This follows the discovery of seven bodies from the scene.

Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere last night said 25 police officers and seven reservists were killed during the ambush, while seven officers cannot be accounted for.

"Officers left at 4am to go to a manyatta where stolen animals were hidden but they were ambushed by bandits who had prior information of the police advance. Hopefully we will be able to account for them tomorrow," Iteere said.

He said armed bandits ambushed 150 officers at dawn on Saturday morning as they travelled to Suguta Valley, Baragoi to recover the livestock. Police spokesman EricK Kiraithe yesterday confirmed that more bodies had been recovered following an operation.

Rift Valley Provincial Police Officer John M'Mbijjiwe led senior police officers including the staffing officer in charge of operations Willy Lugusa on a fact-finding mission. The group will oversee the recovery of the bodies and their transfer to Nairobi or Nakuru.

"We are in Baragoi undertaking a security operation on the ground and will give you details as we confirm them," Mbijjiwe said yesterday evening.

Internal Security minister Katoo ole Metito and Iteere, who had been on a trip to Italy, cancelled their official tour and travelled back to Kenya yesterday. They were reported to have headed to Baragoi upon arrival.

Kiraithe, who was being interviewed for the Inspector General of Police job in Nairobi yesterday blamed the deaths on an ill-equipped police force.

"I believe the commander of the operations acted in good faith but the operation went sour. I believe he had credible information and was moving the team for the operations. However, the team was receiving fire from a very tactical disadvantage. This was a purely tactical matter which was aggravated by lack of equipment. What were the officers doing there without bullet proof jackets and armored vehicles?" Kiraithe asked.

He said had the commander not acted on the information, he would have been blamed for inaction. But Iteere was quick to say that the officers were well equipped. He said police intended to pursue the killers and have them prosecuted.

The bodies of the officers were expected at the Wilson Airport yesterday at noon but by 8pm, the plane transporting them had not yet arrived.

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