NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police have yet to take witness statements or gather ballistic evidence from the site of an ambush where gunmen wounded a world-famous conservationist, sources say, and are unable to give details about suspects they said they arrested.
Kuki Gallmann, the 73-year-old Kenyan-Italian author of “I Dreamed of Africa,” was shot twice in the stomach on Sunday after gunmen ambushed her vehicle when she went to inspect arson damage on her conservation park in northern Kenya.
Leading politicians rapidly issued statements on the shooting, which could damage Kenya’s tourism industry, and the interior ministry announced on Monday that suspects had been arrested and a weapon recovered.
The attack follows months of violence and at least 14 civilian deaths in the Laikipia region. Herdsmen fleeing a severe drought have brought tens of thousands of animals onto private land.
Residents say politicians are encouraging the invasions, hoping to win support for lucrative seats in August elections, and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the chaos.
Last month the government sent troops to Laikipia but the violence continues; four police were killed this month.
Gallmann, who was played by Kim Basinger in a 2000 movie adaptation of her book, is internationally renowned for her work on her 86,000-acre ranch and nature conservancy.
After the attack garnered international headlines, the interior minister swiftly announced suspects had been arrested.
But a source close to the investigation said they were only aware of one firearm recovered in the district on Sunday. It was involved in a different, fatal, shooting on the same morning 100 kilometres away, the source said.
Neither the county commander, the officer commanding the police division in Laikipia West, nor the officer in charge of the local police station near Gallmann’s conservancy were able to clarify when or where the suspects were arrested and the firearm recovered.
“I don’t have such information,” said Mutwire Ring‘era, the police officer in charge of Laikipia.
The police spokesman and interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
Nigel Adams, Gallmann’s son-in-law, said the family had not been informed of any arrests.
Police have also not taken witness statements or inspected the scene of the shooting on the Gallmann conservancy to recover ballistic evidence, although they have towed away her vehicle, said workers at the conservancy.
“They’ve never been to the scene, no witnesses have been interviewed,” said one worker.
On Tuesday, a station for Kenya Wildlife Service rangers was burned down on the Gallmann conservancy, the worker said.
Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Editing by Toby Chopra