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2 suspects dead after conservationist shot in Kenya

Tom Odula
Associated Press

Nairobi, Kenya — Two suspects were killed by security agencies after the shooting of Italian-born author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann, Kenya’s Internal Security Minister Joseph Nkaissery said Monday.

A gun was recovered after Sunday’s attack and was being examined to see if it was used to shoot Gallmann in the stomach, Nkaissery told The Associated Press. Other suspects are in custody, he said.

Gallmann was shot while patrolling her ranch, which recently was targeted by arsonists amid tensions with herders seeking pasture amid Kenya’s drought. She was reported to be in stable condition after surgery.

The local farmers’ association has said suspicion over the attack has fallen on herders who have invaded Gallmann’s ranch several times.

Nkaissery blamed the shooting on “isolated banditry activity.”

Kenya’s drought affects roughly half the country and has been declared a national disaster More than 30 people have died in conflicts over grazing land as herders try to save their animals and livelihoods.

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec, condemned Sunday’s attack, saying that “violence is never the answer.”

Both the herders and large-scale farmers in parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley have been desperately waiting for seasonal rains that were to start last month to ease the drought.

Kenya’s military and police have been working to disarm and drive the hundreds of herders and their animals out of ranches they’ve invaded, but their actions appear to have escalated the violence. When herders are driven from one ranch they move into another, the Laikipia Farmers Association has said.

The association has accused politicians campaigning for the August elections of inciting herders to invade the ranches, saying the owners’ leases have come to an end and that herders can take over the land and distribute it among themselves. Kenya’s government has not responded to the accusation.