|"Kenyan medics treat a woman and child injured in violence between the Pokomo tribe and the semi-nomadic Orma people." (Joseph Okanga/Reuters)|
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, December 21, 2012
"At least 39 people were killed when farmers raided a village of herders in south-eastern Kenya early on Friday in renewed fighting between two communities with a history of violent animosity, a police official said. Thirteen children, six women, 11 men and nine attackers were killed, said the police official Anthony Kamitu. Forty-five houses were set on fire during the attack, the Kenya Red Cross spokeswoman Nelly Muluka said. Kamitu, who is leading police operations to prevent attacks in the region, said the Pokomo tribe of farmers had raided a village of the semi-nomadic Orma herding community at dawn in the Tana river delta. He said the raiders were armed with spears and AK-47 rifles. At least 110 people were killed in clashes between the Pokomo and Orma in August and September. The tit-for-tat cycle of killings may be related to a redrawing of political boundaries and next year's general elections, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Kenya, Aeneas C. Chuma, said in late August. However, on the surface the violence seems driven by competition for water, pasture and other resources, he said.
Dhadho Godana, a member of parliament from the region, and the defence minister, Yusuf Hajji, have been accusing each other of involvement in the fighting. The two have testified before a commission of inquiry led by a high court judge investigating the clashes. Political tensions and tribal animosities have increased due to competition among potential candidates in the March election. Violence after Kenya's last general election, in late 2007, killed more than 1,000 people. Officials are working to avoid a repeat during March's presidential election, but episodes of violence around the country are raising fears that pockets of the country will see violence during the voting period. The Tana river area is about 430 miles (690km) from the capital, Nairobi. The utilisation of the Tana river water has been at the middle of a conflict pitting the Pokomo against the Orma, according to research by the Institute of Security Studies in 2004, following clashes in the Tana river area from 2000 to 2002. The Pokomo claim the land along the river and the Orma claim the waters of the river, said the research by Taya Weiss, titled Guns in the Borderlands Reducing the Demand for Small Arms. At least 108 people died in the 2000-2002 clashes, according to the parliamentary record. The longstanding conflict between the two tribes had previously resulted in relatively low casualties but the increased availability of guns has caused the casualties to escalate and more property to be destroyed, said the report. [...]"