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Tana villagers burn up slain attackers’ bodies

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Updated Sun, December 23rd 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Joseph Masha

Residents of Kipao village in Tana Delta District have burnt ten corpses of slain raiders in a show of hatred between the Pokomo and Orma communities.

And police raided Ngao village and arrested at least 65 suspects over killings of more than 40 people.

The GSU Commandant in charge of operations Antony Kamitu told journalists that the suspects are detained at Gamba Police Station in Garsen.

Tana River County Commissioner Joseph Rotich said: “We conducted a raid in Ngao village to search for firearms. We arrested 65 suspects including a deserter from the GSU.”

Reports indicated that the alleged deserter left the GSU in 2010.

Mr Rotich said they recovered an AK 47 rifle, three bullets, spears and other crude weapons during the raid. Mr Daniel Manga Kapanya, an elder in Ngao, said the arrest has left the village insecure and vulnerable.

 “Most of those who were arrested were young men and only women and children have remained and so we are insecure and can be attacked any time,” said Kapanya who admitted that some of the young men killed in Kipao came from Ngao “but we did not know they were planning an attack.”

The Standard On Sunday spoke to several villagers in Ngao who accused the police of taking sides by arresting dozens of Pokomo men.

The officers said they would establish a police base at Kipao and not Ngao.

Many residents in Ngao were seen fleeing towards Malindi in Kilifi County while Kipao remained deserted as most of its estimated 3,000 residents went into hiding in bushes or fled to other Orma settlements for fear of reprisal attacks. Ngao is inhabited by the Pokomo while Kipao is home to Ormas

The corpses of the Pokomo men were doused with petrol before they were set ablaze on Friday night after villagers prevented security officers from retrieving them.

When The Standard On Sunday visited the scene Saturday, the stench of burning flesh still hang in the air, and there were no police officers in sight.

Mr Kamitu said using force to retrieve the corpses would have angered the Orma who were still reeling from the attack that was blamed on Pokomo militia.

Security agents stood at a distance on Friday evening as youth from Kipao armed with bows, arrows and spears cordoned off the area where the corpses were strewn.

Saturday, Kamitu declined to comment on the fate of the corpses. Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) said it had received reports that one of the slain attackers was in police uniform. Muhuri Executive Director Hussein Khalid told The Standard On Sunday that one of the slain attackers was believed to have sat his KCSE last month.

Mr Khalid added that a police uniform was found on one of the slain attackers while an officer who deserted GSU was arrested Saturday in Ngao. “I can confirm that the bodies have been burnt,” said Hussein who added that he received reports that local villagers decided to incinerate the corpses in order to “send a message to attackers.”

A local official of Muhuri in the Tana Delta Kuresha Khadijah told The Standard on Sunday on phone “the corpses were burnt on Friday night.” Meanwhile, a Ngao resident, Mr Wande Dulo wants police deployed in all hotspots.

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