Kenya has sent troops to restore order in the northern region of Laikipia after months of clashes, a statement from the presidency said on Friday, a move welcomed by Britain’s foreign secretary during his visit to the Kenyan capital.
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. A dozen people have been killed.
A recent victim was Tristan Voorspuy, a dual British-Kenyan national, who was shot dead earlier this month.
Some Laikipia residents said politicians were encouraging herders to invade private land, hoping to win votes in national elections scheduled for August.
“Assuring citizens of safety and order is the pre-eminent duty of any nation,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement.
Kenyatta said the national security council would send troops into other violent areas as well as Laikipia to restore security and disarm residents.
“I value the announcement today that has been made about the strong measures that the Kenyan government is taking to deal with disturbances that threaten Kenyans in regions of this country, including UK nationals,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is visiting Nairobi, told reporters.
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.
The Kenyan military will also be deployed into the Rift Valley region of Baringo, where a single attack killed 11 women and children on Tuesday after a series of clashes.