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Minister on the spot over Tana clashes
Daily Nation
Friday, August 24, 2012

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An assistant minister is being investigated in connection with the violence in Tana River County in which scores of people have been killed.

Fifty two people, mainly women and children, were killed in the latest revenge attacks on Wednesday.

Defence minister Yusuf Haji, who is also acting in the Internal security docket, accused Mr Dhadho Godhana of refusing to cooperate with government officials in resolving the root cause of the violence.

The Livestock assistant minister and Galole MP, he said, had been snubbing security and peace talks.

Mr Haji said he had directed the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the MP.

“He has refused to join other local leaders and MPs in security meetings,” he said.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said investigations had been launched to establish the motive of the attacks and track down the perpetrators. However, no arrests have been made in connection with the Wednesday massacre in Riketa village.

“Investigations are going on in this matter and all those found to have played a part will be arrested and brought to book,” Mr Iteere said in Tana River during a meeting with the rival communities.

Mr Haji was speaking in Parliament where MPs criticised their Galole colleague’s behaviour.

Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh said Mr Godhana had tried to use her to ask a question on his behalf on the Tana River violence.

She said she did not ask the question after her colleagues advised her against it, saying it would incite more violence.

On Thursday, Mr Godhana did not turn up at a Press conference he had called at 2pm at Parliament Buildings.

Nominated MP Maison Leishoomo said Mr Godhana had told some MPs that he would not attend any meeting where the Defence minister was present.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua said politicians were to blame for the clashes, accusing them of causing violence with impunity.

Speaking after one of the meetings snubbed by Mr Godhana which was attended by 10 MPs from conflict-prone zones, Mr Haji warned that chiefs in the areas would be held accountable for further violence.

In Tana River, Mr Iteere announced the immediate deployment of a commanding officer to head a newly-created Garsen police division to boost security in the Tana Delta region. He was speaking during a meeting with the Orma villagers at Dida Waredi where hundreds of people who fled Riketa are camping.

The commissioner directed Coast provincial police boss Aggrey Adoli to take charge of security patrols in Garsen until the situation normalised.

However, he turned down a request that reservists be deployed in the area, saying their presence could be counter-productive because they were from the warring groups.

The commissioner also ordered the transfer of policemen from the Pokomo and the Orma from the county.

At the Malindi District Hospital, survivors of the massacre spoke of their lucky escape.

Mr Ali Alggi said when he fell down bleeding from cuts on his arms and head, the raiders thought he was dead. And this is what saved his life, as his attackers moved on to vent their rage on the next victim, certain that they had killed him.

There was a lot of confusion during the attack, he said, and since it was still a bit dark, people were attempting to look for an escape route and not weapons to defend themselves.

Sayid Mr Alggi: “We could have resisted the group had we been able to take up any arms, but the group had guns.”

He suspected that the attackers could have accessed the village — which is surrounded by water — using speedboats. Some villagers, he said, claimed to have heard the sound of the speedboats, but they ignored them because they are normal on the river.

Mr Alggi said that after sometime he was able to regain consciousness and managed to struggle and hide in the bushes. He remained inside the bushes until he was rescued by members of the Red Cross and other volunteers who waded through swamps to reach the village.

Another survivor, Ms Mariam Dido, talking through an interpreter, could only say: “Thanks to Allah that I am alive, I can’t tell how I survived and ended up here at the Malindi Hospital.”

Ms Madina Matee, who was on a drip, was in shock and in no condition to talk.

Mr Mohammed Mahmud, who was taking care of her, said she was rescued by the Red Cross and AAR medics  from among a heap of bodies.

Ten-year-old Muslima Chora could not tell how she ended up at Malindi Hospital.

But Jillo Wario and  Abdi Guyo, who escorted some of the injured to hospital, said they hid in the bushes near the village until the mayhem stopped and the attackers left in speedboats.

The two said they were among others who started the rescue mission for the injured while raising the alarm.

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