39 killed in fresh Tana Delta clashes
Posted Saturday, December 22 2012 at 00:30
- 39 people killed during attacks in Kipao village, Tana Delta
More than 39 people, most of them women and children, were on Friday massacred in a dawn raid hours after elders from the Pokomo and Orma communities had sued for peace.
Tana Delta district commissioner David Kiprop said security officers were aware of the tension in the area, but the attack caught them unawares.
“I want to tell you that last night I received a mobile phone text message from a senior politician and leader of the other community, warning his people to be ready for an imminent attack. From today, the government is on hot pursuit of the person,” said Mr Kiprop.
The flare-up might force the judicial commission investigating past violence in Tana River to review its position, Lady Justice Grace Nzioka who is chairing the team told the Nation.
Deputy provincial police boss Robert Kitur told journalists that 11 men, six women, 13 children and nine of the aggressors were killed in the fighting at dawn in Kipao village.
Kipao village has nearly 3,500 residents and is arguably the biggest Orma settlement in the entire Tana County.
According to eyewitnesses, the fighting started shortly after Muslim morning prayers at 5.30am, with about 200 raiders armed with guns, bows and arrows and spears and machetes descending on the village.
They fired in the air, making the villagers to scamper for safety.
Mr Kitur said the attackers used guns, meaning disarmament should continue.
Twenty people sustained serious injuries in the morning attack, which also saw five houses burnt to the ground.
The injured were admitted to hospitals and health centres in Malindi, Tana River and the neighbouring Kilifi County.
Villagers later lynched a man suspected to have been among the raiders. Police had found the injured man in a bush.
Mr Kitur said police had identified the attackers — believed to be from the Pokomo community — and were searching for them.
“Those people who attacked the village are from within the locality and are well known to the residents. Police on the ground are doing all they can to apprehend them,” he said.
He appealed to the two communities, the Orma and the Pokomo, to coexist peacefully since they had lived harmoniously for years.
“These skirmishes must come to an end, but only if the two communities decide to live in peace regardless of their economic activities,” he said.
The Tana Delta was rocked by inter-ethnic clashes between the Orma and Pokomo in August and September this year over grazing and farming resources along River Tana.
Some politicians were accused of instigating the clashes in which more than 100 people died and many others injured.