NAIROBI - Kenya said Thursday it was searching for two local councillors accused of playing a role in a weekend ambush that saw gunmen kill at least 42 policemen in the restive north. “We are now in pursuit of two councillors who participated in the attacks,” Internal Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito said at a press conference, without specifying their alleged roles. He said one of the suspects in Saturday’s massacre, the deadliest against police in Kenya’s history, was a former law enforcement officer once attached to the feared anti-riot police unit. The policemen were killed as they hunted cattle thieves in Baragoi, a remote district in Kenya’s arid north, police said.

, adding that the rustlers they had been pursuing were already suspected of killing 13 people in a raid last month. On Wednesday, five other people were charged with murdering the 42 policemen. President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday ordered the army to be deployed to the conflict-ridden area, a move which has sparked fears among some residents. “People are fleeing because the army is going to be very brutal in their quest to bring the perpetrators to justice,” resident Daniel Lokadokai told AFP. Cattle theft and ensuing clashes between rival pastoralist groups, the Samburu and Turkana, claim dozens of lives each year in arid northern Kenya. However, it is rare for police officers to be attacked by rustlers. The violence is not believed to be linked to politics, but it raises concerns over security and a lack of police capacity in volatile areas ahead of elections due in March. Elections five years ago descended into deadly post-poll killings that shattered Kenya’s image as a beacon of regional stability.