April 24, 2017 / 5:36 PM / in 8 months

Kenya arrests suspects in shooting of conservationist

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has arrested an unspecified number of suspects and recovered a gun linked to the shooting of Italian-born conservationist Kuki Gallmann at her conservation park over the weekend, the interior minister said on Monday.

Italian-born conservationist Kuki Gallmann Kuki Gallmann poses for a photograph during the Highland Games in Laikipia Kenya, September 22, 2012. Gunmen wounded Gallmann at her conservation park on April 23, 2017 in the latest of a string of attacks during land invasions in drought-stricken northern Kenya. REUTERS/Stringer.

The 73-year old author of the memoir “I Dreamed of Africa” was shot in the stomach on Sunday in her 100,000-acre (400 square km) ranch and nature conservancy in Laikipia in the north.

Gallmann was recovering in intensive care at a Nairobi hospital, where she underwent a seven-hour operation, after being airlifted from Laikipia, her family said on Monday.

“We have recovered a gun which is now undergoing ballistic tests to confirm whether it was the gun used to shoot Kuki,” Joseph Nkaissery, the interior minister, told a news conference.

He did not say how many suspects the police were holding. He described the attack on Gallmann, who was in a vehicle at the time of the attack, as an “isolated” act of banditry.

A wave of violence has hit Kenya’s drought-stricken Laikipia region in recent months. Armed cattle-herders searching for scarce grazing land have driven tens of thousands of cattle onto private farms and ranches from poor-quality communal land.

At least a dozen civilians and police officers have been killed in the violence.

Kenya dispatched its military to the area last month to help restore calm and disarm communities. The minister said the operation was going as planned.

Many residents of the area accuse local politicians of inciting the violence before elections in August. They say the men are trying to drive out voters who might oppose them and win votes by promising supporters access to private land.

Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Larry King

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