MOMBASA: One person was killed at the weekend in fresh ethnic violence between pastoralists and herders in Tana River County, even as leaders proposed a task force to mark a boundary that has been a source of conflict.
In the flare-up between Somali and Orma communities, the herdsman, identified by police as Shure Gure, was killed on Saturday in an attack that left four people injured.
Last week, at least two people were confirmed dead and another one reported missing after the Girima and Wardei communities clashed in the county.
During the Saturday attack, Gure was speared to death at Rebai village in Galole. The killing came just a few hours after Tana River Governor Hussein Dado and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi had toured Marereni area, where they called for peace between Giriama (farmers) and Wardei (pastoralists) and consoled displaced victims camping at Kanagoni Primary School in Kilifi.
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The two governors announced that a task force committee that will look into the boundary dispute between herders and farmers in Kilifi and Tana River counties has been proposed following the skirmishes.
“One person has died and four were injured. The one who was killed has already been buried because relatives refused to allow a post-mortem examination,” said Tana River OCPD Silvester Githungo.
The OCPD however said peace had been restored.
The conflict in Galole between Somali herders from Ijara sub-county in Garissa County and Orma who live in Tana River erupted when the pastoralists from Garissa brought hundreds of camels into areas claimed by Orma, sparking outrage amid claims that the camels destroyed several grass-thatched houses.
Githungo said the deceased was from Ijara and added that four men had been arrested over the killing.
The Standard established the four men from the Orma side were arrested after reporting to Hola District Hospital with knife and machete wounds and are now chained to their hospital beds after police suspected they were involved in the violence.
“We suspect the four who were injured and sought treatment at the hospital were involved in the violence and they will be arrested immediately they leave hospital,” the OCPD said.
The pastoralists from Ijara and Wajir have been entering Tana River since late last year to escape drought in North Eastern, fuelling conflicts with locals. Reports indicate that following the killing, herders and their families from Wajir and Ijara have fled Rebai.
Tana River acting County Commissioner Wilson Tangus, who visited the injured at the hospital, said security agents have been sent to Rebai. He called for peaceful co-existence and asked herders from North Eastern to leave Tana River.
Sunday, a local peace committee rushed to Rebai village to preach peace and promote reconciliation between Orma and Somali. Officials said peace and security had been restored between the Giriama and the Wardei, who have been fighting since June. Tana River County Police Commandant Walter Aliwa said a major security operation was going on in the boundary areas.
Meanwhile, Kenya Red Cross is feeding and providing shelter to more than 100 families who have fled their homes over the violence.