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One killed, houses burnt in tribal clashes sparked by land dispute along the Nandi escarpment

Tension is high in Kuvasali village, Kakamega County after tribal clashes erupted between the Nandi and Luhya communities along the Nandi escarpment.

One person was killed and more than four houses torched in skirmishes that swept the area, prompting residents to flee their homes.

What began as a land dispute between two neighbours, Joel Kosgey, who was killed in the fight and Mulanda Piri who has now been arrested, escalated into a boundary dispute that has led to tribal clashes between the two communities.

When The Standard team arrived in Kuvasali village on the border between Malava and Mosop constituencies, members of the Kabras and Nandi communities were seen packing their belongings and transporting them to unknown destinations for fear of revenge attacks.

Beatrice Burudi, a resident at Kuvasali said she heard cries from afar and when she asked about it, she was told a man had been hacked to death and his house burned down.

"They chopped off his head and hands. We ran for our lives as some youths were armed and had camped in the forest," she said, adding: "People are fleeing their homes and living as refugees because they fear being attacked any time. Tension is high. There is fear of being attacked at night. All we are asking is peace and the Government should come in for our safety."

VICTIM BEHEADED

Nandi Governor Cleophas Lagat and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya rushed to the scene where they addressed locals.

Kosgey, who is reported to have had a long standing land dispute with his neighbour Mulanda, was on Sunday night beheaded. Mulanda and his two brothers were arrested yesterday evening and will be arraigned in court today in Kakamega.

The three are said to have attacked Kosgey at his home, hacking him to death and then torching his house before running away. The Nandi community in retaliation torched houses belonging to members of the Luhyia community, sparking tension on the boundary between the Western and Rift Valley regions.

Sammy Kosgei, a brother to the deceased, said the boundary dispute led to his brother's death.
"People have been threatening to kill my brother for more than two months. Unknown people armed with pangas and spears have stormed his house at night four times. We reported the matter to authorities but no action has been taken," Sammy said.

ENCOURAGE TRADE

Governor Lagat condemned the killing and termed it an act of hooliganism.

"We will work with security agencies to ensure the suspect is caught and taken to court. Residents should not take the law into their own hands because we have a court of law that deals with criminals. Incidents of people committing crimes because they have been wronged should not arise. We want the suspect caught and prosecuted," Lagat said.

"All communities should preach peace for investment and development purposes in the county. We will not agree to be taken back to the old days where people were killing each other because of boundaries. Peace must prevail," he added.

Oparanya also condemned the act, saying a land dispute should not be allowed to create tension between the two communities.

"This is a known land dispute between the two families that has been raging on for a while and I understand the matter is in court. It should not be allowed to escalate and divide communities that have lived peacefully side by side," Oparanya said, adding: "The suspect should be judged in court and the issue of war should not arise because we have to be peaceful and want to encourage trade. Nandi residents usually take their cane to Butali Sugar Mills and if such incidents arise, growth of the economy will slow down."

Oparanya called on police to beef up security in the area to prevent further killings.

Nandi County Commissioner Jacinta Wesonga said they were investigating the matter.