By Cyrus Ombati
|Tribal clashes in Tana River County have left many dead and others homeless. (Photo:Standard)|
The death toll following fresh tribal revenge attacks in Kilelengwani village, in Tana River Delta has risen to 38.
The deceased include 16 men, five women, nine police officers and eight children. The officers include five GSU, two Administration Police and two regular police officers.
A temporary police camp recently set up in the village was vandalized during the attack, a police lorry and a land cruiser burnt to shells and police guns stolen. Police said at least five guns are missing.
Police officials say about 500 Pokomo raiders attacked the village and torched a police camp and several other structures at dawn.
Senior police officers at the scene said they could not account for at least seven of their colleagues by midday who were on duty at the time of the attacks.
The attackers reportedly engaged police in a shootout that lasted several hours. Tension is high in the area as the officers who are engaged in the shootout are calling for reinforcement.
Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli told The Standard Digital his officers were headed to the scene of the attack but confirmed there was “a serious confrontation between armed raiders and police” in the area.
“We have asked for a chopper to fly there. There is an attack and people are feared dead for now but we are headed there,” he said on the phone.
Witnesses who talked on the phone said the raiders were in an apparent revenge mission and were believed to be Pokomos.
They slashed villagers in an ambush as others stayed in readiness for confrontation with the police.
This was in retaliation to Thursday’s incident in which 13 Pokomos were killed when raiders from Orma struck Tarassa village in the area.
Adoli described the fresh attacks as dangerous but hoped to tame the situation.
The incident happened even as the government announced it will conduct disarmament exercise targeting the Tana Delta following clashes that have left more than 80 people dead.
More than 100 new police officers have been deployed to the area ahead of the start of the programme.
Coast Provincial Commissioner Samuel Kielele announced the exercise will begin soon as part of efforts to tame the growing conflict in the area.
He made the remarks after chairing a security meeting that was attended by local leaders on Friday.
Kilele said he had issued a one-week ultimatum to the locals who own guns illegally to surrender them or face a house-to-house search.
He made the remarks as tension mounted in Hola town after a herdsman was killed on the banks of River Tana.
Police said Hussen Bishar who hails from Ijara constituency was killed as he quarreled with a local farmer as he drove his cattle to the river.
Area MP Yusuf Haji who is also the acting internal security minister said more security had been deployed there to tame any form of revenge.
Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa and Eldoret North MP William Ruto have condemned the killings and urged for immediate end of the violence.