By CYRUS OMBATI
TANA RIVER, KENYA: The death toll in the Tana River inter-communal clashes has hit 41. This follows the dawn raid in the area on Friday that also left 35 others injured.
The victims include 13 children, six women, 11 men and nine attackers, police said emergency service providers said.
There are fears the number of the dead could rise because of there are several others who are injured.
Police and emergency service providers say 45 houses were also torched in the attacks that occured at about 4 am in Kipau village, within Tarassa Division.
Police said some of those killed were shot or hacked when the attackers raided the village.
Reports say some of the victims bled to death because they could not be attended to in time.
Details of the raid trickled in with police saying houses were also burnt. The death toll is expected to increase as police say many escaped with serious injuries and died on their way.
Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli said preliminary reports show there were serious casualties on both sides- attackers and the attacked.
“We have received reports of raids in Kipao and there are casualties on both sides. Pokomos attacked Ormas who seemed to have been aware of the pending attack and there were clashes,” he said.
The fresh fighting comes as contingents of police continue to police the area following the August clashes that killed more than 100 people including police officers.
More than 400 animals were killed then and houses torched in shocking attacks that saw the president impose a curfew in the area.
The victims were shot, hacked and burnt to death as the Pokomo and Orma tribes fought one another in a deadly dispute over Orma-owned cattle grazing on land the Pokomo say is theirs.
Settled Pokomo farmers and semi-nomadic Orma pastoralists have clashed intermittently for years over access to grazing, farmland and water in the coastal region.
An influx of weapons in past years has upped the stakes.
Friday’s dawn attacks come as a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the earlier clashes in Tana River County compiles its report after receiving testimonies from some 95 witnesses and suspects.
Judge Grace Nzioka, the commission’s chairperson, said she is surprised at the events when they are compiling their report.
A team of General Service Unit that has been camping there led by head of operations Mr Anthony Kamitu is still on the ground. Kamitu said no arrest has been made so far.