KILIFI: About 80 families fleeing ethnic violence between farming and pastoralist tribes in Hurara division of Tana Delta sub-county in Tana River County have arrived at Kanagoni Primary school in Kilifi County.
They have been arriving at the school, exhausted and hungry, according to reports which indicate most fled when their houses were burnt down or for fear of reprisal attacks.
The violence which began on Sunday between Giriama farmers and pastoralist Orma led to at least four deaths and some kidnappings leading in the several border regions including Hurara and appeared to spread despite the heavy deployment of paramilitary forces.
Local residents say up to four people have been killed through shooting by guns or other weapons amid reports that one herdsman is missing since Sunday after allegedly being kidnapped. Police said on Wednesday that they are aware of just one death but admitted a search was still on to verify any other deaths or bodies in the thickets amid reports several villagers had gone hiding in nearby bushes.
Tensions between the two groups who live in separate villages on the undefined boundary has been growing since last month when two people were killed in a clash over grazing land at Katsangani village, which is mainly, occupied by farming Giriama people. It is not clear if anyone was arrested from last month's violence and murders but reports show that the unsolved dispute from July might have been the long term cause of Monday's killing at Katsangani and the alleged kidnappings in the same area on Sunday.
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Speaking to The Standard, Tana River County Kenya Red Cross Manager, Mr Jared Bombe said that the displaced people at the school include women, children and the aged are currently camping at the Kanagoni Primary School compound.
The victims at the school were mostly Giriama but there were also reports that Orma villagers displaced by the violence had fled deeper into Tana River to join their tribal kin.
Bombe maintained that they only had information on the death of two people who included a farmer and a bodaboda operator.
''We are not certain about a third person dead. In fact he went missing early this month and we cannot ascertain whether he is dead or alive. We have documented that he is still missing,'' Bombe said.
Bombe said that they carried out registration Thursday evening and had 80 families who they were providing humanitarian assistance to.
Separate sources gave a breakdown of those affected as 115 households with a total population of 642 people out of which 185 were children below the age of 5 years, 7 elderly and 7 pregnant women with 15 lactating mothers respectively.
Bombe said the villages where the displaced persons flee from are Mto Kilifi, Ufuoni, Kasangani, Mto Tana, Surijani, Mticharaka, Komeni , Bokani, Milimani, Midodoni and Masolo.
Kilifi County Police commander, Mr Douglas Kanja confirmed that the affected area is calm but there was tension in some parts.
A team from the Kilifi county security team led by County commissioner, Mr Joseph Keter visited the displaced people from Kurawa location in Tana River at Kurawa/Kanagoni Primary School in Magarini Sub County.
The recurring violence is believed to emanate from difference between farmers from the Mijikenda community and pastorolists of the Orma from the delta.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and his counterpart from Tana River, Hussein Dadho were due to visit the affected area and later address peace meeting on Friday.