An ongoing operation targeting cattle rustlers and other bandits in the North Rift and other parts of the country has so far recovered over 700 livestock.
Nearly 500 hundred goats, 70 heads of cattle and 200 camels that had been stolen in Turkana, Baringo and Isiolo counties have since been returned to their owners under the Operation Komesha Uhalifu that was recently launched by the Government.
At least one suspected bandit has been shot dead in Turkana and a gun retrieved in the operation that has also been extended to West Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Laikipia counties.
President William Ruto has directed for a crackdown against cattle rustling and lawlessness that has plagued the North Rift region and other arid parts of the country and warned that the government will deal ruthlessly with armed criminals hiding under cultural practices to steal livestock while killing and maiming innocent citizens.
Last week, President Ruto directed the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, Mr.Mohammed Maalim and County Commissioners from affected counties to immediately recruit and deploy police reservists to complement security teams on the ground.
The reservists who are traditionally drawn from local communities are regarded as an effective bulwark against bandits and cattle rustlers due to their knowledge of the tough terrain and hiding spots relied on by the criminals to wage attacks and to frustrate security operations.
Speaking in Turkana over the weekend while launching relief food distribution, the President also put on notice the masterminds and the patrons of the cattle theft syndicates saying the government was determined to bring to book the perpetrators of the vice that has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of others.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki has already held meetings with senior security chiefs on the implementation of the Presidential directive and the ongoing operation that also targets the mopping up of illegal guns and the elimination of gun-racketing networks blamed for fuelling the cyclic violence.
The latest records from the National Police Service reveal that late last month, a multi-agency team acting on a tip off recovered 24 stolen goats and an AK-47 gun from a suspected homestead in Turkana County. Another 34 goats that had been stolen in Lokwall village in the same county by bandits suspected to have crossed over from West Pokot County were also recovered last week.
On Monday, the same security team recovered 70 cattle and 150 goats after a confrontation with a group of armed attackers that left at least one suspected bandit dead. The largest recovery has however been in Isiolo county where 200 camels and 300 goats that had been stolen were recovered and handed back to the owners.
The police have appealed to members of the public to volunteer any information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of suspected bandits.