Gloom as over 250 houses burnt and 500 families displaced on Christmas

Police officers run past a burning house in Oleposimuru in Narok North, Friday, following clashes between Maasai and Kipsigis. [PHOTOS:BONIFACE THUKU/STANDARD]

More than 250 houses were torched in Christmas Day ethnic clashes. Four people injured and over 500 families displaced following the fighting sparked by an incident on Wednesday night in which two herdsmen from the Maasai community in Siera Leone in Narok South were shot dead and nine head of cattle stolen.

In retaliation, the Maasai Community attacked Kipsigis living in Ol Posimoru in Narok North.

On Friday evening Maasai youth burnt houses, including one belonging to former 3,000 metre steeple chase champion Richard Matelong and a former chief.

Tens of families to move to neighbouring Olengeruone trading centre in Nakuru County and Ol Posimoru trading centre in Narok.

The regional Coordinator Osman Warfa and police bosses held separate  meeting to resolve the conflict. According to Mr Warfa, 250 houses were torched down during the clashes and over 500 families displaced. Warfa said four people suffered arrow injuries, with one person fighting for his life in Tenwek Mission Hospital.
Tension remained high for better of the day as youth went on rampage despite high presence of police officers.

The officers watched as the youth torched houses.

During the meeting, the Kipsigis community denied killing the two Maasai herdsmen, and accused a local chief for abetting the skirmishes.

They demanded that two chiefs be appointed from both communities for fair presentation. They also want livestock allegedly stolen on Friday night returned and a police post opened in the buffer zone.

The Maasai community on the hand insisted the Kipsigis were behind the killing of the herdsmen and accused the police of failing to investigate the incident.

They also want members of Kipsigis community who have settled in the area moved out for peace to be realised. One resident Joseph ole Karia, the peace committee chairman from Lengapei village, narrated how nine children escaped unhurt after their house was set on fire. “It was around 12 noon and we trying to rescue some of the properties after youth set the house on fire. When we broke into one of the rooms nine children came out,” ole Karia said.

Another resident, Joshua Amdany, said his 12 head of cattle were stolen on Friday, but he managed to rescue eight.  The youth yesterday morning set ablaze the house of former chief Chacha Mosian. Journalists also witnessed houses burning less than 100 metres from where police officers had parked their vehicles.

Warfa addressed members of Maasai community at Ol Posimoru trading centre where he warned the residents not to take law into their own hands. “Everywhere there is smoke and that smoke is someone’s property,” Warfa said.

He promised to put up a police post in a buffer zone to ensure stolen livestock are returned.

He added that a team from the Kenya Red Cross had been called to provide relief items. He said police investigations into the incidents will ensure culprits were arrested.