Tana River clashes death toll rises to 52

By Cyrus Ombati

The death toll of those killed in Tana Delta clashes has risen to 52 after four of the injured succumbed to death at Mpeketoni hospital. At least 48 other people were killed on Wednesday morning after two communities clashed in Tana River.

Police say among those killed are 31 women and 11 children and six men.

Unknown number of people were injured and 60 cows slashed to death in the clashes between Pokomo and Orma communities.

The injured were rushed to Witu Hospital in the area.

Coast Deputy Police boss Robert Kitur said the security team on the ground had counted 48 bodies and there were fears the number could increase.

“The deaths occurred when Pokomos attacked Ormas in the area. It is a bad scene and officers have been dispatched there to ensure no more deaths and destruction of property,” said Kitur.

Police say the clashes started after some members of the Pokomo community attacked the Ormas. The conflict was triggered by fight over pasture.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Angelus  Karuru is also on the ground leading the security operation to end the clashes.

Tension remained high in the area as police patrolled the affected villages in Reketa area.

The latest incident, which Kitur described as a revenge attack, also left many others missing.

The Kenya Red Cross estimated the number of the dead at more than 50.

Villagers who talked to the Standard said the attackers used machetes to attack them in the morning.

“It was massacre because they even killed animals which do not know what was happening. We are shocked because bodies are lying on the ground,” said a local on the phone.

Police headquarters said more contingents of police had been dispatched to the area to quell more retaliatory attacks.

The attack came in the wake of last week’s incident in which three villagers were killed and six injured after Orma herdsmen attacked Pokomo villagers.

The attack occurred after cattle owned by the Orma strayed into Pokomo farmlands and destroyed crops.

The farmers attacked the herdsmen and slashed some of their animals, which police said were 200.

The herdsmen regrouped and attacked a Pokomo village, killing three villagers. It was after that the Pokomos hit back.

Coast PPO Agrey Adoli and PC Peter Kilel visited the area but could not solve the matter.

On Wednesday, police headquarters said plans are underway to construct more police stations in the affected areas as part of efforts to contain the recurring clashes.

The stations will however be constructed if and when the locals agree where they want them to be put up.

Supkem secretary general Adan Wachu condemned the attacks and urged authorities to move in and contain the situation.

He said Supkem is planning a meeting with the locals to solve the dispute that had led to the attacks.

“We are going there and Mandera to spearhead talks for peace to prevail,” said Wachu.