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Six Kenyan police officers killed in ambush by bandits 

LAIKIPIA, Kenya (Xinhua) -- At least six Kenyan police officers were killed and four others seriously injured on Wednesday after being ambushed by bandits at Matuiku area in Laikipia county of northwest region.

A senior police officer who declined to be identified said the incident happened at a ranch in the area when police tried to drive away a group of grazers, noting that two senior police officers were the deceased.

“Six police officers were killed while four others were seriously injured in ambush by the bandits. We have rushed the injured to the hospital,” said the officer.

Laikipia area is increasingly becoming a conflict zone as people and wildlife are killed with impunity, livestock stolen, houses razed and property looted.

The county, known for large ranches established in the pre-independence period by Kenya’s white community, has in recent months been hit by conflict pitting private ranch owners against Pokot and Samburu herders.

The armed pastoralists from the Pokot, Maasai and Samburu communities have caused insecurity in the area, attacking some of the white owned ranchers in Laikipia.

The incident comes after local leaders called on the police to enforce the law and contain escalating insecurity in parts of the Rift Valley in northwest Kenya that could have a serious impact on people’s ability to vote in the August election.

The authorities have responded to clashes with a heavy deployment of military and police. Residents said that Kenyan military officers were routinely shooting livestock that they found on any of the private ranches.

Killing livestock harms the livelihoods of the Pokot ethnic group, and increases vulnerability and tensions as the election nears.

The herders have been reportedly forcing themselves into the ranch with their livestock in search of pasture and burnt down properties.

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