Sunday, 9 September 2012

Dozens injured in ethnic clashes in northern Kenya

Ghan President John Draman Mahama (L) and his Togo counterpart Faure Gnassingbe Essozimma in Lome
.Picture Xinhua

GARISSA, Kenya, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of people were seriously injured on Saturday in chaos that erupted in Masalani town in Garissa County of northern Kenya, following the killing of pastoralists from the area by suspected Pokomo farmers the previous day.
The man was killed in Kibuye village some km from Hola in what suspected to a revenge attack of mistaken identity by Pokomo youth after 13 people were slain earlier Friday by suspected Oromo raiders.
The chaos started after a group of mourners converged at the local District Commissioner headquarters in protest after the burial of the man, demanding the immediate transfer of the local divisional police commander, Rems Warui, whom they accused of incitement through his handling of the issue surrounding the killing of the man in Hola.
The demonstrators numbering over 1,000 who sang war songs accused the police boss of siding with Pokomo farmers by refusing to help transport the body from the scene of killing to Masalani town for burial, while refusing to provide security to his relatives who went to collect the body.
The mourners led by Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Ijara branch chairman Abdikadir Sheikh Hassan said he has business interest including a residential house, a bar and lodgings in Majengo, 7 km from Masalani and that he is always siding with them whenever an issue of security touching on the two communities occurs. While Warui refused to provide security to the relatives when they were going to collect the body, Hassan said, he was at the same time ferrying members of Pokomo communities from Masalani town with three vehicles and provided security men to guard their villages in Tana-River.
Those injured in the melee were seven civilians and two police officers who were currently admitted at Masalani district hospital after attacks with crude weapons.
The officers who were overpowered called for anti-riot police reinforcement from Garissa town some 180 km to contain the demonstrators who later turned unruly after police provocations.
Masalani town in Ijara, a district known for peace, turned a chaotic town between the police on one side and the demonstrators on other.
Garissa County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed said they were concerned over the allegation against the divisional police chief over his business interest in Majengo, saying that if the allegation were true it was likely to compromise his impartiality in the eyes of the public he serves.
"It is unfortunate that Masalani, a town of community known for having a peaceful co-existence with the coastal Pokomo communities until time immemorial could turn into chaotic scene," Mohamed said.
"As government we will alert all the relevant government agencies to probe the locals' claims and necessary action will be taken if the allegation were found to be true," he warned.
Acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Hajji has called for restraint, saying it was paramount that they co-exist peacefully with their neighboring Tana-River communities despite the brutal killing of one of them.
"As the area MP and the Minister in charge of security I urge the rioters to desist from any act criminality and leave the long arm of the government to take its course," Yusuf said. (Xinhua)

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