Tuesday, September 15, 2009

31 killed in Laikipia cattle raid

A man scavenges on a carcass at Acher's Post in Samburu on June 11, 2009. Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga says the water and food situation is set to get worse. PHOTO/ JOSEPH KANYI

A man scavenges on a carcass at Acher's Post in Samburu on June 11, 2009. Recent spate of cattle rustling is being blamed on severe drought in the area. PHOTO/ JOSEPH KANYI  

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

At least 31 herdsmen have been killed in a fierce conflict in Mogurak, in Laikipia North District in central Kenya.

The incident happened in a remote area of central Kenya and details are still trickling in.

Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode confirmed the killings, saying 22 of the herdsmen were from the Samburu community while nine were from the Pokot community.

The assistant minister said over 100 heads of cattle had been stolen during the early morning raid in the mainly pastoral area.

Mr Ojode spoke to the Daily Nation on Tuesday moments before he boarded a plane to the area to “assess the situation.”

“I’ve been told that even children have been killed. I will give the correct picture once I land on the ground,” he said.

Mr Ojode said the conflict was caused by the persistent drought that has led the pastoralists to fight over pasture and watering holes for their animals.

The killings in Mogurak come five days after Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton raised a red flag over increased insecurity in Northern Kenya.

Samburu East MP Raphael Letimalo has had to call off a noon press conference at Parliament buildings in order to accompany the government entourage to the killing fields.

Mr Letimalo, a Samburu, put the number of the dead herdsmen from his community at 24 but did not mention the deaths of the Pokot.

The MP has previously accused the Government of selective disarmament saying, “it (disarmament) only targets the Samburu.”

However, Mr Ojode defended the Government saying the previous efforts to disarm the pastoralists were scuttled after area leaders prevailed promising to handle the matter through peace meetings.

The Internal Security assistant minister said a major crackdown was planned in the area following the fresh flare-up.

“This time we are not going to cut off the exercise even if the leaders protest… we have to stamp out this cattle rustling menace,” said Mr Ojode.

The leaders, he said, pledge to hold peace meetings to reduce cattle rustling and the tribal conflicts, but nothing comes out of it.

Due to the porous borders in Northern Kenya – bordering volatile zones like Somalia, Southern Sudan and Southern Ethiopia — the proliferation of small arms into the hands of the pastoralists has been a major security crisis.

Two weeks ago there was fighting in Isiolo District pitting the Borana against the Samburu over pasture.

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