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Residents claim clashes are political

By | Jun 10th 2009 | 3 min read

By Kepher Otieno And Nick Oluoch

Twelve schools have been closed, 18 houses burned and property worth millions of shillings destroyed in a fresh wave of inter-clan violence in Kuria East District.

Hundreds of villagers were forced to flee their homes with their livestock and household goods as the death toll in the fights between Bwirege and Nyabasi clans rose to five in two days.

And yesterday, it emerged that differences on the new Kuria East District could be the cause of the bloody clashes.

Investigations by The Standard team found that politicians might be fuelling the fighting over location of the district headquarters.

The residents claim fighting started after leaders from both sides differed over the location of the district headquarters.

The Bwirege clan want the offices to be in Ntimaru while the Nyabasi want it to remain in Kegonga.

Quell clashes

Tension was high along the boundaries even as the area OCPD Paul Wanjama said more security personnel had been deployed to quell the clashes.

Government authorities confirmed that 12 schools had been closed because teachers and pupils opted to stay away for fear of attack.

Two teachers, who spoke to our reporters, said many colleagues had applied for transfers to other areas but were unsuccessful.

"We have asked the Government to transfer us from this District but our applications have been turned down. Most of us hail from the affected clans and it is risky to report to work," said Ben Chacha, a teacher.

Another teacher, only identified as Mr Maroa said for the last one month, no learning was taking place in the clash-torn area adding that this will adversely affect candidates.

Residents said cattle rustlers were using guns and poisoned arrows during their raids. More than 60 head of cattle have been stolen.

Hundreds of displaced villagers are camping at Kegonga Trading Centre with police providing security.

Face Starvation

Business has been disrupted and transport paralysed. No motorists are plying the Kegonga and Ntimaru routes, which are the most affected areas.

Residents said they face starvation because food supplies have been cut off.

Some of the residents accuse politicians of fanning the clashes from the sidelines. They also demanded an immediate overhaul of the district security team, which they accused of taking sides in the flare-ups.

The police, they added, had failed to arrest the perpetrators and instead harass innocent villagers.

Elizabeth Wegesa Waithera, 48, accused the Government of ‘laxity’ in containing the fighting. She said it was wrong for raiders to continue to killing innocent children.

Residents of Nyabasi now want a police post erected at Getongorona, which is their border with Bwirege to help stop the fighting.

Some residents who have fled their homes have stayed without food for days.

Anxiety over attacks

Jackline Wanjare shed tears as she recounted how she had trekked for more than 10km from her home in Nguruna to Kegonga for refuge after raiders attacked her family on Monday night.

"It has become very dangerous to sleep at home because armed raiders can attack at any time," she said.

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