ISIOLO, Kenya (Reuters) - At least 12 Kenyan police officers were killed when cattle rustlers ambushed them in the remote northern county of Samburu, police said on Sunday.
Local television stations put the death toll at 30.
Officials had initially put the death toll in Saturday’s clash at four. They said raiders from the ethnic Turkana community who had stolen cattle from members of the Samburu community killed police who were pursuing them.
“By late this afternoon we had confirmed at least 12 police killed. The search and rescue was still going on following the ambush,” said Eric Kiraithe, a police spokesman.
A regional administrator who did not wish to be named put the death toll at 32, adding that 11 other officers were seriously wounded, including one who had both legs blown off.
Osman Warfa, provincial commissioner for the vast Rift Valley province told Reuters on Saturday that the attack was carried out using guns and anti-personnel bombs.
The two tribes frequently raid cattle from each other and fight over grazing land and watering points. Samburu county has a national game reserve and neighboring Turkana county is where explorer Tullow Oil struck the country’s first promising oil find earlier this year.
In September, dozens of villagers were killed by armed raiders in the coastal county of Tana River, creating security concerns ahead of a presidential election scheduled for March next year.
Reporting by Noor Ali; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Stephen Powell