Residents seek refuge in lodges as violence returns to haunt Isiolo - Daily Nation

Residents seek refuge in lodges as violence returns to haunt Isiolo

Sunday October 23 2011

Hassan Huka | Nation Residents of Isiolo Town sift through burnt iron sheets for valuables at a spot where a house belonging to Mrs Halima Abdikadir stood. The house was razed on October 22, 2011 by raiders from a rival community. Hundreds of residents have fled from villages to seek refuge in estates and lodges. Police have beefed up security in the area to stop the violence that erupted over the weekend, leaving two people dead.

Hassan Huka | Nation Residents of Isiolo Town sift through burnt iron sheets for valuables at a spot where a house belonging to Mrs Halima Abdikadir stood. The house was razed on October 22, 2011 by raiders from a rival community. Hundreds of residents have fled from villages to seek refuge in estates and lodges. Police have beefed up security in the area to stop the violence that erupted over the weekend, leaving two people dead. 

By HASSAN HUKA [email protected]

Hundreds of families have fled their homes to camp in lodges in Isiolo Town as violence rocked the district at the weekend.

Residents of Kambi Garba, Shambani, Maisha Bora and Tractor areas fled to the town fearing attacks as rival pastoralist communities fought in renewed violence.

Fifteen people have been killed in the violence over past two weeks, according to police records in Isiolo.

In Kambi Garba, more than 100 families fled their homes through Sunday to camp at their relatives’ homes and lodges.

About 14 timber houses were torched in the estate and two people killed on Saturday, further escalating tension.

One of the villagers killed was aid worker Romano Loosike, who was shot by raiders during the 3pm gun battle in the estate. A police reservist was also killed.

In Alamach and Lotik, the epicentre of Saturday’s violence, more than 50 huts were razed, according to area Councillor Paul Mero. The civic leader said the raiders killed three people including a two-year-old child.

He said that a primary school was also torched but no one was injured.

According to Mr Mero, the violence was sparked by armed herders who invaded the area at the time of drought and started stealing animals from their host communities.

He urged the resident to co-exist peacefully and solve disputes through elders instead of resorting to violence.

“The herders were heavily armed and they started stealing animals from the host communities as they shifted to Garbatula when rains fell in their area,” said Mr Mero.

However, deputy provincial commissioner for Upper Eastern Province Isaiah Nakoru downplayed the magnitude of violence and fear of fresh attacks, saying that police had been deployed to all the hotspots to beef up security.

Learning in jeopardy

Some schools remained closed as violence that started on October 24, continued, putting learning in jeopardy.

The fate of class eight candidates who will sit their national examination in two weeks remains in the balance as teachers have kept away fearing attacks.

Eastern provincial commissioner Clare Omolo has pledged to send security personnel to protect pupils and teachers from attacks.

Assistant police commissioner Willy Lugusa, who is in-charge of Eastern Province, toured the affected areas and promised to beef up security.

He said police would be patrolling the Isiolo-Marsabit highway to prevent attacks.

“Security on highway is a sensitive matter and we will not allow any group to paralyse transport on international roads like this one,” Mr Lugusa said.