AT least eight people were killed and several wounded in the latest outbreak of violence in the Tana River region of southeast Kenya.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Less than two months before Kenya holds general elections for the first time since bloody post-poll violence five years ago, the renewed clashes raises concern over security and a lack of police capacity in volatile areas.
Violence in the region first erupted in August, pitting the Pokomo farming community against their Orma pastoralist neighbours, leading to a series of vicious reprisal killings and attacks.
Two of the eight killed were believed to be from the attackers, who launched a raid on the Orma village of Nduru about an hour before dawn on Wednesday, said Caleb Kilunde, a Kenya Red Cross official in the Tana River delta region.
"Three people were critically injured, with deep head cuts," he said, adding that "the situation remains volatile ... with rumours of a revenge attack being planned."
A senior police officer told AFP that at least eight had been killed, nine were wounded and that houses had been torched.
The police officer said those killed included both members of the Ormas and Pokomo, taking the number of those killed since the clashes began last year to more than 140. In December at least 45 people were killed in an attack.
The two communities have clashed in the past -- violence that has often been attributed to disputes over water and grazing rights.
But the scale and intensity of recent killings -- with women and children hacked to death or torched in their huts -- has shocked many, with some locals accusing politicians are fuelling the spate of attacks.
Elections five years ago descended into deadly post-poll killings that shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability, with at least 1100 people killed and more than 600,000 displaced.
The upcoming March 4 elections are for the presidency and parliament, as well as for regional gubernatorial posts and local councils, have raised tensions both nationally and at a grass roots political level.
About 14 million voters are registered for the elections in the country of some 40 million.
Kenya is battling a number of security threats, including a series of grenade attacks blamed on Islamist militants, supporters of Somalia's al-Qaeda linked Shebab.