News / Africa

    Kenyan Ambush Death Toll Rises

    Relatives wait for the bodies of slain police officers to arrive at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012. Suspected cattle thieves hid on a high hill and ambushed and killed at least 34 police officers pursuing them over the weekend in northwestern Kenya.Relatives wait for the bodies of slain police officers to arrive at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012. Suspected cattle thieves hid on a high hill and ambushed and killed at least 34 police officers pursuing them over the weekend in northwestern Kenya.
    x
    Relatives wait for the bodies of slain police officers to arrive at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012. Suspected cattle thieves hid on a high hill and ambushed and killed at least 34 police officers pursuing them over the weekend in northwestern Kenya.
    Relatives wait for the bodies of slain police officers to arrive at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012. Suspected cattle thieves hid on a high hill and ambushed and killed at least 34 police officers pursuing them over the weekend in northwestern Kenya.
    Gabe Joselow
    Officials in Kenya now say at least 42 police officers were killed in an ambush Saturday, as more bodies have been recovered.  Police believe cattle rustlers were behind one of the most shocking attacks in the country’s modern history.

    Family members of the slain police officers waited at Wilson Airport in Nairobi Tuesday for the bodies to be returned, four days after the ambush in Samburu County.

    The long, anxious wait has added insult to grief, particularly to Muslims here who say their religion requires them to bury the bodies as soon as possible.

    Harun Mohammed Yusuf, whose cousin was among those killed, says the government has failed at every step.

    “And we are worried about the capacity of the government and whether it was negligence or whether it is a sheer failure of logistics," Yusuf said. "Because if the government was not capable of equipping its soldiers to defend its community and its people, does it mean it does not even have the capacity to lift the dead?

    Police entered into an area known as the Suguta Valley by truck Saturday ahead of an operation to recover stolen animals.  But officials say the gunmen were waiting in the hills, and overpowered the security forces with automatic weapons.

    In addition to those killed, at least nine other police officers were injured, while several others are still unaccounted for.

    Violence over resources in Kenya’s remote regions is not uncommon, but an attack on government forces of this magnitude is nothing short of shocking.

    Kenyan Commissioner of Police Mathew Kirai Iteere, left, addresses media on the weekend attack on the police officers in Samburu, northwestern Kenya at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012.Kenyan Commissioner of Police Mathew Kirai Iteere, left, addresses media on the weekend attack on the police officers in Samburu, northwestern Kenya at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012.
    x
    Kenyan Commissioner of Police Mathew Kirai Iteere, left, addresses media on the weekend attack on the police officers in Samburu, northwestern Kenya at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012.
    Kenyan Commissioner of Police Mathew Kirai Iteere, left, addresses media on the weekend attack on the police officers in Samburu, northwestern Kenya at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Nov. 13, 2012.
    Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, speaking to reporters at Wilson Airport, said police will resume their hunt for those responsible.

    “The search and rescue will continue until we are very, very satisfied that the area has been thoroughly covered and then the operation will continue because by any means and by any circumstances, the perpetrators of this kind of action can not be left to go unpunished,” he said.

    At the heart of the violence is an ongoing conflict between the pastoralist Turkana and Samburu people.

    Police were pursuing heavily-armed Turkana cattle rustlers, who are said to have led the ambush.

    Abdullahi Halakhe, a Kenya researcher at the International Crisis Group, says the problem is that for too long, the government has had little presence in the area.

    “There is an absence of state," he said. "So there is an ungoverned space there, which is a carryover from the colonial era where the pastoralist communities, or areas where the pastoralists were occupying, were never considered economically viable and as such the government never invested.”

    He says that has all changed since the discovery of oil in the area, which is forcing the government to reconsider its relationship with the Turkana people.

    While the weekend assault will likely set back efforts to re-engage, Halakhe said the government should avoid responding with more violence.

    “This is not a very responsible government, particularly the security apparatus, so we have to monitor how they will react," he said. "I'm not sitting here and saying, you know, these guys should be handled with kid gloves.  But at the same time, there should be a proportional response, it should be within the law.”

    The attack also raises concerns about Kenya’s ability to control violence that could arise around the time of the presidential election in March.  More than 1,100 people were killed in post-election violence after the last poll in 2007.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.