NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's domestic security minister said Monday that 379 pastoralist herders have been arrested for invading ranches that led to the killing of a British farmer over the weekend.
A severe drought in Kenya is causing tension because of the scarcity of water and pasture, as some communities move into other properties in search of the resources, said Joseph Nkaissery. He said criminals have taken advantage of the situation to steal.
The arrests come after rancher Tristan Voorspuy was shot dead while inspecting some of his lodges, which had been burned by the attackers. His body was found Sunday 190 kilometers (118 miles) north of Nairobi. Kenya has declared its drought a national disaster. Ranchers, however, say the land invasions are politically motivated and part of plans to take over their land.
The British High Commissioner to Kenya Monday said he was "deeply saddened" by Voorspuy's killing. Nic Hailey said he had repeatedly expressed his concern to President Uhuru Kenyatta's government over the situation in parts of Laikipia.
Kenya has been hit by a cycle of violence of land invasions and evictions in the 1992, 1997, 2007 elections. Kenya is to hold general elections in August.
More than 1,000 people died after the 2007 elections, the deadliest clashes in the country's history. A majority of the deaths were in the Rift Valley, where Laikipia is. More than 600,000 were evicted from their homes during the violence.
A 2008 government commission found that historical injustices such as unequal land distribution were partly responsible for the violence. A 2013 report reinforced those findings, saying longstanding grievances over land constitute the single most important driver of conflicts and ethnic tension in Kenya.