Mombasa, Kenya • Hundreds of farmers attacked a village, killing at least 48 people in southeastern Kenya in an escalation of clashes between the farming and pastoral communities over land and resources, an official said Wednesday.
Some people were burned to death in their houses, while others were hacked to death or shot with arrows, said Tana River region police chief Joseph Kavoo.
The majority of those killed were women and children, said area resident Said Mgeni. He said the attacks began Wednesday at dawn when a group of about 200 people belonging to the Pokomo ethnic group raided a village in the Riketa area and torched all the houses belonging to the Orma, a pastoralist community.
Mgeni, who is in charge of a government fund for development in the constituency, said it was a retaliatory attack sparked by incidents last week when the Pokomo protested over Orma grazing their cattle in their farms and farmers attacked the pastoralists and injured hundreds of their livestock.
The Orma then retaliated and killed two Pokomo’s over that altercation, Kavoo said. The two tribes clash perennially but death tolls have remained low through reconciliation meetings between the communities’ elders, Kavoo said.
"We were making arrangements to finance peace campaigns and today we were even supposed to have a last meeting... ahead of the process, but this would now mean that we have to wait," said Mgeni.
A member of parliament representing a constituency in the district, Dhado Godana, said the retaliatory attacks could not be controlled on time, since the area is hard to reach.
"We had planned to meet and resolve the issue since that area is prone to conflict and the same may spill over to nearby areas," said Godana.
The legislator attributed the frequent clashes to an influx of foreigners from Somalia in the area, and also the fact that residents in the area own illegal arms which they use for their survival.
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