* Raiders armed with machineguns, RPGs ambushed police
* Remote territory awash with weapons, smugglers
* Police need revamp ahead of elections - analysts
* President orders army to help police pursue attackers
By James Macharia and Noor Ali
NAIROBI, Nov 13 Hundreds of people in northwest
Kenya are fleeing fearing reprisals after security forces
started a hunt for cattle raiders who massacred at least 32
police officers, residents and community leaders said on
Rustlers armed with machineguns and rocket propelled
grenades killed the officers in a military-style ambush in the
country's remote territory over the weekend - in what was
described as the worst attack on police in Kenya's history.
Some unconfirmed media reports said up to 42 bodies had been
recovered in the rugged Suguta valley.
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday ordered police and
troops to track down the attackers. "No part of this country can
be a safe haven for bandits," he said in a statement.
Officials had blamed the killings on a group from the area's
Turkana community who had stolen cattle from the Samburu tribe.
People started fleeing after trucks arrived with hundreds of
officers from the Kenya Defence Forces, the paramilitary and
regular police, residents told Reuters.
"The Turkanas are fleeing from Suguta area with their
household goods, goats and cattle," said Peter Legerded, a
shopkeeper from Baragoi town, near the site of the ambush.
Samburu elder Fabian Leresh said more than 3,000 members of
the Turkana community had left Baragoi.
Clashes over cattle, land and water are common among the
fringe tribes in Kenya, but many in the east African country
were shocked by extent of the violence and the kind of weapons
The head of the country's police earlier on Tuesday said the
force needed armoured vehicles and a tactical re-think in the
wake of the massacre.
"The policing of 1930s cannot work today where you are
dealing with people who are armed, equally armed as the police
officers," Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told reporters
referring to laws that governed police formed while Kenya was
still a British colony.
"I think it is time to equip the police with armoured
vehicles so that they are better protected," he said at an
airport in Nairobi, where the bodies were airlifted.
Further north and east of the site of the attack, Kenya
shares porous borders with South Sudan, Ethiopia's Somali region
and Somalia - territories awash with weapons and arms smugglers
after decades of conflict.
Kenya's police are also facing new challenges on other
There is pressure to improve the force ahead of elections
next March - the first since a disputed election in 2007 fuelled
ethnic slaughter that killed more than 1,200 people and forced
about 300,000 from their homes.
Fighters from Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels
have launched a string of attacks in Kenya.
A senior police officer said some of the raiders were likely
to be former members of the security forces, now working as
mercenaries. Analysts called for an overhaul of the police
force's training methods.
"The police were ill-prepared for this operation and lacked
basic anti-ambush skills," said regional security analyst and
former Kenyan army officer Imaana Laibuta.