Saturday, 25 August 2012

Kenyan Police hold 9 suspects of tribal clashes

United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) shows civilians airlifted by the UN to the town of Turalei in Warrap State.The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that it is alarmed by the health situation of the 170,000 Sudanese refugees living in camps and settlements across South Sudan's Unity and Upper Nile states. (Xinhua) 

By Joy Nabukewa, Chris Mgidu and Christine Lagat
TANA RIVER, Kenya, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police have arrested nine suspects, including four administrators in connection with the tribal clashes in Tana River county in the southeastern part of the East African nation. The violence has left 52 people dead and scores of others injured.
The four local chiefs are believed to have taken part in the massacre that involved retaliation attacks between two warring communities of the Orma and Pokomo over pasture and grazing land.
Regional Commissioner Samuel Kilele announced drastic measures on Friday in Mombasa aimed at bringing to book the perpetrators of the heinous act.
Kilele told journalists in Mombasa that the four have been arrested and relieved off their duties, waiting to the charged in court in connection with the retaliation attacks.
"Intelligence information reveals that the clashes were an organized crime. The sacked administrators are guilty of complacency because they knew about it before hand but did nothing. Complacency is a very serious crime," he told journalists in Mombasa.
Kilele said five people, all from the Pokomo community, had been arrested so far "and we are pursuing very useful leads and making a breakthrough to nub all the others involved in the heinous acts," he said.
The regional administrator said they are working hard to contain the situation and ensure the clashes do not escalate and spill to other parts of the province. He said the government had names of those who funded and took part in the killings.
Suspects of "both low rank and high rank" are being investigated by the country's National Intelligence Service (NIS), he said, refusing to disclose their names.
Those arrested will be arraigned in court on Monday while the chiefs will also appear in court. The regional administrator said tension was still high in the county following the recent attacks, but sounded a stern warning to the "rumor-mongering" in Tana River.
He announced the formation of a 30-man peace committee composed of 10 elders from the Orma, Pokomo and Wardei communities.
During the clashes at Rekete village, Tarasaa location, 48 people including 31 women, 11 children and six men were killed. Four others later succumbed to injuries they sustained during the attack.
The Orma cattle had strayed into farmlands owned by Pokomos and in the process destroyed crops. The prompted the Pokomos to attack the Orma herdsmen, killing some of their animals.
Regional deputy police commander, Joseph Kirur, said security has been beefed up in the area to prevent further clashes between the two communities over rights to grazing land and water resources.
While the Pokomo accuses the Orma of allowing livestock to encroach on their farms and of destroying their crops, the Orma complains that Pokomo farmlands are too close to the banks of the Tana River and prevent the herders from using the river to water their cattle.
Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji on Thursday also linked the area lawmaker, who is also an assistant minister, in connection with the attack and directed police to investigate him.
However, Minister Dhadho Godhana has denied the claims, saying he was willing to be investigated.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who toured the affected region on Friday, called on Tana River leaders to find a lasting solution to the recurring conflicts in the area.
Odinga said the government would look into ways to compensate victims of the latest attack that left 50 people dead. He was speaking at the Dide Waride camp in Tana River where more than 300 victims were camping Friday.
"The pattern of events pointed clearly that something was going to happen. The moment incidents of killing of one or two villagers, the slashing of one or two animals and the killing of over 200 animals happened, somebody should have known there would be revenge response," Odinga said.
The prime minister also announced that a speed boat would be made available for use by police to cross the rivers and streams in the area.
Speaking earlier during a visit to the village, the prime minister expressed displeasure that not a single person had been arrested after an event he described as a crime against humanity that must have involved tens or even hundreds of attackers.
"These crimes could not have been committed by one or two people. Very many people must have participated. And those people must be from around here. How come not a single person has been arrested three days after the event?" the prime minister said.
Odinga challenged the security team to be better coordinated, saying the massacre in Tana River could have been avoided if police had acted on the signs of trouble in good time.
Attackers armed with machetes, bows and arrows and spears killed the villagers and set houses ablaze over land and water. About 100 raiders from the Pokomo attacked Rekete village, inhabited by Ormas.
According to the Kenyan Red Cross Society (KRCS), over 40 people sustaining serious injuries and burns were lately admitted in four hospitals in the coastal town of Malindi.
The relief agency officer in charge of disaster, Sadiq Kaki, told Xinhua on Friday that over 1,200 people have displaced following the attack, bringing the total number to more than 2,000 following attacks in the area.
"We have victims manly children and women who have fled the area for fears of more revenge attacks and were attending to them in various camps that we have set up," said Kakai.
He added that although police have intensified patrols in the area and assurance from Kenya Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, who toured the area on Thursday, villagers are yet to go back for fears of attacks.
Iteere blamed the animosity between communities in the Tana River County on political rivalry that exists between leaders.
The East African nation witnessed the worst 2007/08 post- election violence, in which a total of 1,200 Kenyans were killed and over 650,000 others displaced.
During the tour, Odinga said the government is ready to deploy the military and even General Service Unit (GSU) to the region if police are overwhelmed by the task.
The prime minister said the government will establish a fund to compensate the victims across the communities for the losses.
"If it is more officers that were needed, the administration should have asked for it. This laxity must end. It is costing us lives and pain. This inability of our security forces to anticipate problems must end," the prime minister said.
He said the Ministry of Special Programs will continue to provide relief supplies until the situation returns to normal. Odinga appealed to the communities to stop revenge attacks, saying the government will ensure justice is done.
Odinga said enough security officers had been sent to the area to contain the situation and urged residents to maintain peace.

He warned community leaders against inciting their people as this could heighten the tension further and result in more bloodshed.(Xinhua)

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