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Death toll from Kenya's clashes rises to 50   2012-08-24 07:07:00

Death toll from Wednesday's ethnic clashes in Tana River region in southeast Kenya has risen to 50 after two more victims succumbed to injuries, police confirmed on Thursday.

Regional deputy police commander, Joseph Kitur said at least 80 people were injured when around 100 members of the Pokomo clan raided a village inhabited by members of the Orma group during the wee hours of Wednesday.

"Death toll has risen to 50 after two more people died early on Thursday from injuries sustained during the attack. The entire security team led by police commissioner Mathew Iteere is visiting the scene," Kitur told Xinhua by telephone.

Among those who were hacked to death are 11 children, eight men and 31 women and Kitur said about 100 houses were razed to ashes and 300 herds of cattle were slashed to death during the tribal clashes that have sent panic across the region.

The most recent clashes started last week when members of the pastoral community Orma invaded farms belonging to the Pokomo. The attack prompted the Pokomo to retaliate by attacking Orma huts early on Wednesday.

However, humanitarian agency, the Kenya Red Cross Society, has put the number of fatalities at 52, saying 43 of the victims had deep cuts and 9 nine were burned.

Kitur said victims who are mostly Muslims were buried late on Wednesday in line with the tradition.

The police have launched investigations to establish the cause of the Wednesday's violent tribal clashes that have been linked to an ongoing dispute over land and water between the two feuding communities.

Deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said tensions have flared because the Pokomo people are mostly farmers while the Orma people raise cattle. Disagreements have been sparked by use of farmlands for grazing.

"The pastoralists try to use the land to graze their animals in the farms of the subsistence farmers and this has caused a lot of problems and more so between the two tribes," Owino told journalists late on Wednesday.

He said tension and rivalry that resulted into the Wednesday's violent clashes have been ongoing for decades and this resulted in last week's dispute that left at least two people dead.

While Pokomo accuse the Orma of allowing livestock to encroach on their farms and of destroying their crops, the Orma complain Pokomo farmlands are too close to the banks of the Tana River and prevent the herders from using the river to water their cattle.

President Mwai Kibaki has since condemned the killing of innocent citizens and sent a message of condolence to the families, relatives and friends of those who died in Tana River following an attack.

In his condolence message, Kibaki said investigations have begun with a view to not only apprehend the culprits but also ensure such heinous acts do not recur.

He assured security has been beefed up in Tana River County to ensure the lives and property of the residents are protected and wished the injured quick recovery.

Meanwhile, the government and leaders from Mandera and Tana River regions which have been affected by the clashes on Thursday worked closely to resolve perennial conflicts among their rival communalities.

Acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji said the government will conduct an operation to disarm all communities illegally armed in the country and reinforce security in the affected areas.

"The government will investigate the genesis of the current conflict and legal action be taken against inciters and rumor mongers to ensure that law and order is maintained," Haji said after holding talks with both current and former lawmakers, local leaders and senior security officers from the affected regions in Nairobi.

He said the government has opened police posts in the hot spot areas across the counties to address issues of insecurity and will also provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict.

"Leaders must sustain and intensify the peace process in the affected areas. The area Members of Parliament will lead the process," he said.

The meeting also resolved to engage the Ethiopian government to ensure the militias do not cross over to Kenya to perpetrate conflict.

Haji said the meeting also resolved the government should provide vehicles to security officers in the affected areas for mobilization.

source : Xinhua     editor:: Ala
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