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Kenyans fear reprisal in police killings

NAIROBI — Hundreds of people fearing a government backlash over the killing of at least 32 police officers are fleeing their homes in northwestern Kenya as the military prepares to help police pursue the bandits who carried out the attack, officials said Tuesday.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said a ‘‘serious’’ operation has begun to find those responsible for the deaths of the officers over the weekend.

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‘‘We cannot allow such things to happen. I think they were testing the waters and in due cause they will know the depth of the river,’’ he said.

The National Security Council, chaired by President Mwai Kibaki, said the military will provide support to Kenya Police Service in apprehending the bandits and recovering stolen animals and arms in Samburu county.

Residents in Baragoi, the main town in Samburu North district, said there was massive buildup of police officers in the town.

The police were killed over the weekend after being ambushed by bandits from the Turkana tribe.

Samuel Letipila, a council representative in the affected area, said the bodies of 34 police officers and reserves had been recovered. Iteere put the confirmed death toll at 32 with several officers missing.

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