NAIROBI (Reuters) - A British man was shot dead in northern Kenya on Sunday at a private ranch in the Laikipia area, two of the man’s neighbors said, and a legislator warned that local politicians were stoking violence as elections approach.
There have been numerous attacks in the drought-stricken region of Laikipia in recent months as armed cattle herders searching for scarce grazing have driven tens of thousands of cattle onto private farms and ranches. At least a dozen people have been killed.
The most recent victim was Tristan Voorspuy, a father of two and a British cavalry veteran who ran a company called Offbeat Safaris. He was shot dead after he went to inspect the remains of a friend’s home that had been burnt down by herders a few days earlier, one of the neighbors told Reuters.
“He rode out to look at what was left of Richard’s house. He never came back. We flew over the area to look for him ... the horse had been shot in the leg,” the neighbor said.
“He (Voorspuy) was dead in front of the house.”
Workers had seen the body and confirmed that Voorspuy was dead, he said.
Both neighbors asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.
The British High Commission did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Sarah Korere, a member of parliament for Laikipia North, said the violent land invasions are being stoked by politicians seeking votes from particular ethnic blocs in national elections scheduled for August.
“Some guys will be in a hurry to displace certain communities so they don’t vote. We can say the violence is going to get worse,” she told Reuters. “Some politicians are using this issue of land to woo the voters.”
Kenya has a history of ethnic clashes and political violence. The last election, in 2013, passed relatively peacefully but more than 1,200 people were killed following a disputed poll in 2007.
Korere and the two residents said the government had to act quickly to stop the violence worsening.
After 15 foreign tourists were evacuated from Laikipia by helicopter in February because of the herders invading ranches and conservancies in the area, hundreds of heavily armed riot police were sent to the area.
But it was not enough, one of the neighbors said.
“Residents are regularly shot at by people who are invading farms or raiding cattle or forming what seems to be a militia,” he said. “We’ve been expecting this (killing) for some time.”
Editing by David Goodman and Pritha Sarkar