Britain urges Kenya to restore order after rancher killed

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Kenya police officers arrive after they were deployed to guard Sosian ranch following the killing of Tristan Voorspuy a British co–owner of the Sosian ranch in the drought-stricken Laikipia region, Kenya

Kenya police officers arrive after they were deployed to guard Sosian ranch following the killing of Tristan Voorspuy a British co–owner of the Sosian ranch in the drought-stricken Laikipia region, Kenya, March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Britain on Monday urged Kenya to restore law and order in the north of the country after a British rancher was shot dead there.

Numerous attacks have taken place in drought-stricken Laikipia region in recent months as armed cattle herders searching for scarce grazing have driven tens of thousands of cattle onto private farms and ranches from poor quality communal land. At least a dozen people have been killed.

The most recent victim was Tristan Voorspuy, a British army veteran who held dual Kenyan and British citizenship and ran a company called Offbeat Safaris.

Nic Hailey, Britain's high commissioner (ambassador) to Kenya, said he had repeatedly conveyed to the Kenyan government Britain's concern over the situation in Laikipia.

"(I) continue to urge the Kenyan authorities to take all necessary steps urgently to restore law and order, and to protect life and property in the area," he said in a statement.

Sarah Korere, a member of parliament for Laikipia North, told Reuters on Sunday the violent land invasions were being stoked by politicians seeking votes from particular ethnic blocs in a national election scheduled for August.

Kenya's interior minister, Joseph Nkaisserry, said the head of the country's criminal investigation directorate had been dispatched to the area to lead the investigation, adding 379 "illegal grazers" had already been arrested.

He said Voorspuy's body had been taken away from the crime scene by security personnel after the pastoralists had earlier prevented neighbours from retrieving it.

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.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri and Humphrey Malalo; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Alison Williams)

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