Nairobi — Police have vowed to pursue and kill cattle rustlers who were responsible for the weekend massacre of 42 officers.
Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday that the cattle raiders will be crushed to end the vicious rustling cycle that has claimed countless lives.
"It is not business as usual and they (rustlers) should be prepared to die. Police handle people with a lot of respect and then we are called weak, naive and unprepared. That is not going to happen again!" he stressed.
In a strongly worded statement, Owino said police officers would not sit back and allow raiders to continue wrecking havoc in the country.
"We cannot protect animals and lose Kenyans' lives particularly police officers' lives. We are now going to lose the rustlers together with the cattle. Cattle are not too expensive for the government to compensate," he retorted.
"But these young men and children are too expensive to be compensated," he argued.
He said that the police officers would hit back at the insurgents warning politicians against defending them and inciting lawlessness. Owino added that time had come to fight cattle rustling as a nation saying it was no longer a cultural but a moral issue.
The Deputy Police Spokesman also welcomed the deployment of military personnel to Baragoi, Samburu County saying they had the necessary equipment to combat the militia that boasts of the latest artillery.
"The military's role in this area is very important. Our (police) choppers are not meant for war but the military ones are and since they (rustlers) asked for the military that is what they will get. They (rustlers) have rattled a bee (sic) and they should be prepared for the consequences," he warned.
Owino also said that 29 police officers died in the raid; 23 of these were regular officers while six were police reservists. Five other officers are still missing.
Independent reports from insiders however put the death toll at 42 officers.
"Police officers are deployed to various areas whether they were recruited yesterday or 20 years ago. When we are sending out troops, we don't leave new soldiers behind because they have to gain experience so it is unfortunate that one or two young officers lost their lives," he said.
He further defended Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere against calls to resign, telling Kenyans not to be too quick in criticising him.
"Kenyans went ahead and bashed Commissioner Iteere at a very bad time - when he is mourning the death of young officers and that was an insult to the entire force," he observed.
Information and Communications Director Mary Ombara hosted the media briefing.
She noted with concern how the state of security in the country appeared to have taken a dip, saying there was need to revamp the national security detail.
"We have heard of the re-emergence of Ngoroko, barbaric incidents of armed gangs raping women in Kirinyaga, raids in Ndoba village, attacks that killed two class six pupils in Marigat and suspected Pokot cattle rustlers who sent 5,000 people fleeing from their homes," she noted.
"It has been an extremely bad week for Kenya," she added.