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Eight killed in fresh ethnic clashes

Sunday March 25 2012

By BARNABAS BII [email protected]

Eight people, among them a Kenya Police reservist, were killed and thousands of animals stolen in separate attacks by Pokot raiders in Turkana County at the weekend.

Six herdsmen and a police reservist were shot dead when raiders from Pokot West and Pokot North districts attacked Kapelipok village in Turkana South District before escaping with goats and cattle.

Turkana South district commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said the more than 200 raiders also made away with the police reservist’s gun.

“The raiders ambushed the herdsmen while watering their animals, killing six of them on the spot,” said Mr Kanyiri, adding that the attack was well- coordinated.

A woman was killed when another team of raiders attacked Kotaruk in Loima District in renewed armed conflict between members of the Pokot and Turkana pastoral communities.

“The woman was watering the animals when she was shot dead by the raiders, who escaped towards Pokot North District,” said Loima district commissioner Moses Ivuto.

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He said security personnel from Turkana and West Pokot counties had intensified the search for the raiders.

“The raiders divided themselves into groups before attacking the two villages. They engaged the herdsman and police reservist in a shoot-out that lasted more than two hours,” said Mr Kanyiri.

He attributed the attacks to disputes between the two communities over pasture, water and the boundary.

Members of both the Pokot and Turkana communities claim ownership of the Turkwel Hydroelectric Power Station and the fertile River Kerio belt.

“A diplomatic approach involving leaders from both communities is encouraged to tackle the insecurity issue,” said Mr Kanyiri.

The attacks follow a recent peace meeting in Turkwel where the two communities resolved to end cattle rustling and banditry.

The leaders agreed to equal sharing of natural resources and a disarmament drive.

The proposals include equitable sharing of resources from the Turkwel power plant and introduction of irrigation schemes along the River Kerio to attain food security and generate income for the residents.

An inspector with the Anti-Stock Theft Unit and a corporal with Kenya Wildlife Service were shot dead last year when more than 400 people suspected to be Pokots attacked the Lochkwakula security camp.

“The attacks are no longer about cattle rustling but land ownership around the Turkwel power plant and the entire Kerio River,” said Ekuma Ewoi from Kainuk, Turkana South District.