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Four killed as ethnic fighting flares up in Moyale again

Updated Thursday, December 22nd 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By Ali Abdi

Two rival communities on Tuesday engaged each other in daylight battle, leaving four people dead.

The villagers used stones, pangas (machetes) and guns at Odha, in the outskirts of Moyale town during the battle which started at around midday and ended late in the evening.

Three people – two boys and a man died from bullet wounds while the fourth one – a woman was stoned to death. An unknown number of people sustained injuries mainly from panga cuts and stoning.

First to be killed were the boys and the woman during a lunch-time clash. The man was killed in the evening by the side that had suffered casualties earlier.

After a two-week lull, the conflict between the Borana and Gabra communities, which also live together across the border in southern Ethiopia, flared up again when a young boy was shot and injured on Sunday afternoon while playing with his friends.

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The next day, a man waiting to board a vehicle at Odha police barrier was allegedly shot and injured by a Kenya Police Reservist (KPR), while police officers watched. The reservist was later arrested and detained at Moyale police station.

The victim, Abdi Galgalo, who sustained a gunshot wound in the stomach was rushed to Moyale District Hospital where he was admitted.

Upper Eastern Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru, however, only confirmed the three lunch hour deaths saying he was unaware of the fourth victim.

On Wednesday, Moyale councillors Abdi Wako (Odha) and Mubarak Wario (nominated) condemned the killings, saying the victims were innocent people who were caught up in the hostilities.

While Mr Nakoru and the Moyale and Sololo districts security committees remained tight-lipped over the causes of the conflict between the Borana and Gabra, locals point to 2012 politics.

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"This is pure politics. There are people who do not want to see the Borana and Gabra unite to vote as a block in the 2012 Marsabit County politics.

Remember that the two sides had fought bloody battles in the past and signed a peace pact two years ago," said a politician from Saku who declined to be identified for security reasons.

However, the Tuesday conflict was triggered by dispute over ownership of a settlement at Iladu that had been claimed by both sides.

Tension remained high on Wednesday in Moyale. Transport between Moyale and Sololo remained paralysed between Monday and Tuesday but resumed on Wednesday morning.

"The traffic along the Isiolo-Moyale highway is very light. Transporters fearing the mob at Odha parked their vehicles for fear of attack,’’ said councillor Wako. Wario questioned how locals could fight for hours while the district headquarters where security personnel are stationed was only a walking distance away.

‘‘We want the Government to get to the bottom of the conflict and restore order in Moyale," said Wario.

Over 15 people were killed in Moyale and Sololo last month in a conflict between the two sides.

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